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THE PROBLEMS OF 
PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 




The "Will Board" 



THE PROBLEMS OF 
PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

EXPERIMENTS AND THEORIES IN 
THE REALM OF THE SUPERNORMAL 



BY 

HERE WARD CARRINGTON, Ph.D. 

ATJTHOB OF 

"The Coming Science," "The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism,' 
"Death: Its Causes and Phenomena," "Modern Psychical 
Phenomena," "Your Psychic Powers: and How to 
Develop Them," "Higher Psychical Develop- 
ment," "True Ghost Stories," Etc. 




NEW YORK 

DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY 

1921 



^ ,0 



■*>• 



Copyright, 1921, 
By DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY, Inc. 






<-\ 



VAIL-BALLOU COMPANY 
BINGHAMTON AND NEW YORK 



'^ 16 1921 
§)C!.A608369 



PREFACE 

In the following pages I have dealt chiefly with the 
mental or psychological phenomena of psychical re- 
search, and have not touched upon the ' ' physical ' ' mani- 
festations to any extent. The book is mostly theoretical 
and constructive in tone; and, because of its speculative 
character, it may, perhaps, prove of value to future 
psychical investigators. It represents the author's con- 
clusions after several years' experimentation; and, in a 
field so new as this, scientific hypotheses and specula- 
tions are assuredly helpful — indicating the road we must 
travel, and the possible interpretation of certain facts, 
which have been accumulated in the past, as the result 
of years of laborious research. I believe that practically 
all the phenomena of spiritualism are true; that is, that 
they have occurred in a genuine manner from time to 
time in the past; that they are supernormal in charac- 
ter, and are genuine phenomenal occurrences. But as 
to the further question: "What is the nature of the in- 
telligence lying behind and controlling these phe- 
nomena?" — that, I think, is as yet unsolved, and is 
likely to remain so for some time to come. I do not 
believe that the simple spiritistic explanation — espe- 
cially as at present held — is the correct one, nor one 
that explains all the facts; for I believe that the phe- 
nomena are more complicated than this. Nor are the 

v 



vi PREFACE 

ordinary psychological explanations at present in vogue 
adequate to cover them. The explanation is yet to seek ; 
and the solution will only be found when a sufficient 
number of facts have been accumulated and the various 
explanatory theories have been tested, — to see which of 
them is really adequate. My hope is that the present 
book may help to accomplish this result by supplying 
a little in both directions ! 

The present edition of this book is to some extent an 
abridgement of the first edition, which appeared some 
seven years ago. I have, for instance, omitted a num- 
ber of "cases" which were originally included, and also 
my "sittings" with Mrs. Piper — which material will 
be published at a later date in another volume. I have 
also omitted the original First Chapter, — since much of 
this material was subsequently included in my Modern 
Psychical Phenomena. On the other hand, I have in- 
cluded a new chapter on Recent Experiments in Psychic 
Photography, — composed partly of original and hitherto 
unpublished material, and partly of the experiments 
undertaken, some years ago, by Dr. Baraduc, — in "pho- 
tographing the soul." The account of his experiments 
was originally published in my book, Death: its Causes 
and Phenomena, but they are now included here as being 
more in line with other experiments recently under- 
taken in this field. I have also added a brief chapter 
on the Scientific Investigation of Phychic Phenomena by 
means of Laboratory Instruments. 

A word, finally, as to the necessarily slow progress 
which has been and is being made in the study of 
"psychics." As this objection is often raised, I cannot 
do better, perhaps, than to quote an admirable passage 



PREFACE vii 

from Prof. William James (Memories and Studies, pp. 
175-76), where lie says: — 

"For twenty-five years I have been in touch with the 
literature of psychical research, and have had acquaint- 
ance with numerous 'researchers.' I have also spent a 
good many hours (though far fewer than I should have 
spent) in witnessing (or trying to witness) phenomena. 
Yet I am theoretically no 'further' than I was at the 
beginning; and I confess that at times I have been 
tempted to believe that the Creator has eternally in- 
tended this department of nature to remain baffling, — 
to prompt our curiosities and hopes and suspicions all 
in equal measure, so that, although ghosts and clairvoy- 
ances, and raps and messages from spirits, are always 
seeming to exist and can never be fully explained away, 
they also can never be susceptible of full corroboration. 
... It is hard to believe, however, that the Creator has 
really put any big array of phenomena into the world 
merely to defy and mock our scientific tendencies; so 
my deeper belief is that we psychical researchers have 
been too precipitate in our hopes, and that we must 
expect to mark progress not by quarter-centuries, but 
by half-centuries or whole centuries." 

In the present book, I have endeavoured to show why 
this must necessarily be so ; also to indicate the manner 
in which the subject may be studied in order to arrive 
otherwise be possible. 

H. C. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

Preface v 

I Is Psychical Research a Science? .... 1 

II Investigating Psychical Phenomena with Sci- 
entific Instruments 82 

III Life: and Its Interpretation 93 

IV The Human Will Is a Physical Energy (An 

Instrument which Proves It) 110 

V Modern Dissection of the Human Mind . . 138 

VI Psychic Photography (New Experiments) . . 157 

VII Hallucination and the Physical Phenomena 

of Spiritualism 188 

VIII The Problems of Telepathy 210 

IX The Uses and Abuses of Mind Cure . . . 237 

X The Psychology of the Ouija Board .- . . 247 

XI Witchcraft: Its Facts and Follies .... 261 

XII Scientific Truths Contained in Fairy Stories 277 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

The "Will Board" Frontispiece 

PAGE 
TACING 

1. "Psychic Photograph" 158 

2. "Psychic Photograph" 158 

3. "Thought Photograph" 170 

4. "Psychic Photograph" 176 

5. "Psychic Photograph" 176 

6. "Psychic Photograph" 178 

7. "Psychic Photograph" 178 

8. "Psychic Photograph" 180 

9. "Psychic Photograph" 180 

10. "Psychic Photograph" 182 

11. "Psychic Photograph" 182 

12. "Psychic Photograph" 182 

13. "Photograph of the Soul" 184 

14. "Photograph of the Soul" 184 



THE PROBLEMS OF 
PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 



THE PROBLEMS OF 
PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

CHAPTER I 
IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 

Is Psychical Research a Science ? 

It seems to me that the answer to this question must 
be somewhat as follows : If the phenomena be true, Yes ; 
if not, No ! 

If one single prophecy, clairvoyant vision, telepathic 
impulse, or mediumistic message be true — if veritable 
supernormal information be thereby conveyed — then 
psychical research is a science, and illimitable avenues 
are opened up for further research and speculation. 

More especially is this true in the case of mediumistic 
messages. If these prove to be delusory — the result of 
subliminal activity and so forth — if there be no spiritual 
world, then "psychics" may be said to be "founded 
upon the sand." It can hardly be called a "science." 
Only when the fact of communication is proved, will the 
real study of the subject begin. Much of the work, up 
to the present, has been undertaken with a view to estab- 
lishing the reality of the facts. But this is a question of 
evidence, not scientific research. When the facts them- 
selves are established, then the real study — the work of 
the future — will begin. It will probably be the task of 

1 



2 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

future generations to attack the problem from this 
standpoint. 

Let me illustrate what I mean by a somewhat striking 
example. Take the facts presented in the ease of Mrs. 
Piper. Hitherto the question has resolved itself into 
that of the evidence for survival. Have or have not the 
various personalities who have communicated through 
her entranced organism proved their personal identity? 
That is the problem; and, as we know, opinions differ! 
But, granting the reality of the facts, granting that 
"spirits" really do communicate, as alleged — then the 
study of the question, from the "scientific" point of 
view, will only have begun. How do they communicate ? 
Why are these communications so rare? Why such 
trouble with proper names? How do the "spirits" 
manipulate the nervous organism, and particularly the 
brain, of the medium? Upon what cells or centres do 
they operate? and how? Does the psychic constitution 
of the communicator affect the results — and if so, how? 
What is the condition of the communicator 's mind while 
communicating? Is the medium's spirit entirely re- 
moved from the body during the process of communi- 
cation? and if so, where is it, and what is it doing? 
How does the medium's mind affect the content of the 
communications — and to what extent? These, and a 
thousand other questions of a like nature, immediately 
present themselves, and call for solution, as soon as the 
reality of the facts be granted — as soon as spirit com- 
munication be accepted as a fact. This will constitute 
the work of the future — the detailed study of the facts 
— not merely regarding them from the point of view of 
evidence. Real, scientific psychical research will then 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 3 

begin. The subject will then, for the first time, become 
a legitimate branch of human study. 

Yet, even now, it may not be altogether unprofitable 
to adduce a few reflections which have been suggested 
by a study of the facts, up to the present time. If 
theories and speculations of this nature have in them- 
selves no value, they often stimulate others to experi- 
ment or to reflect upon the same line — sometimes with 
strikingly important and interesting results. It is 
chiefly with this object in mind that I offer the follow- 
ing suggestions — the result of some years of thought and 
research in this particular field. 

(1) Before it is possible for any one to appreciate the 
importance and significance of psychical research, it is 
necessary for him to become "inoculated," as it were, 
with materialism! To one who admits, a priori, the 
reality of a spiritual world, and sees no difficulties in 
the way of accepting it, there is, of course, no need to 
convince him further. But once admit the position held 
by modern science (particularly biological science) that 
life is a function of the organism, and that thought is 
a function of the brain, and the phenomena assume a 
very different importance. To state the case in precise 
terms, I could not do better than to quote the words of 
Professor John Lewis March, when he says "Mind is 
not found to exist apart from matter" (A Theory of 
Mind, p. 11). And it must be admitted that — apart 
from the facts of psychical research — there is no evi- 
dence that it does so exist. So far as we can prove, 
life and consciousness become obliterated at the moment 
of bodily death. And the only way to prove the con- 
trary is to produce evidence that consciousness does so 



4 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

persist ; and this is only possible by the methods adopted 
in spiritism and psychical research. In no other way 
can the facts be established; by no other method can 
the persistence of human consciousness be scientifically 
proved. 

(2) It may be contended that consciousness, as such, 
may persist, but that individuality does not survive 
bodily death: the human is merged into the All. But 
such a view of the case seems to be directly opposed to 
evidence no less than to moral feeling. For, in the first 
place, persistence without memory and individuality 
would not be worth having at all; and secondly, this 
idea is, it seems to me, directly opposed to evolution, 
which tends more and more to accentuate individuality, 
and separate and perfect it. 

(3) On the other hand, it might possibly be that our 
persistence depends upon our ability to persist. The 
theory of mind developed by modern researches in 
psycho-pathology is that the mind of man — instead of 
being a single "unit," as was formerly supposed — is 
composed of a number of threads or strands, so to 
speak, held together by our attention and our will. 
Once these are relaxed, the mind "unravels" and goes 
to pieces. A single, strongly-woven, and well-bound 
rope might stand a sudden wrench and shock, while a 
less perfectly-made one would tear and snap under the 
strain. Similarly, it might be urged, if the mind be 
sufficiently balanced, strengthened, and controlled, it 
might withstand the shock of death ; otherwise it would 
not. Whether or not we persist would thus depend 
upon our ability to control and hold ourselves together, 
as it were; upon our strength of will; upon the degree 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 5 

of development of the central personality. "When this 
is lacking, ''psychical disintegration" takes place, and 
we fail to survive the last great Ordeal. 

While this theory may possibly be true, it seems to 
me that it is very probably untrue, for the reason that 
this is not a question of moral worth which we are con- 
sidering, but of scientific law — of the Conservation of 
Energy, of the ability of life and consciousness of any 
sort — good or bad — to exist apart from brain-function- 
ing. That is the question! Once grant that mind of 
any kind can persist by and of itself, independent of a 
physical organization, and you have so far broken down 
the barriers of materialism that there should not be the 
slightest objection to granting the persistence of con- 
sciousness of any sort — with the probability that it 
ivould so persist. Cosmic Law could hardly act other- 
wise. 

(4) I know well enough that psychic investigation is, 
at present at least, in a chaotic and uncertain condition, 
and that little beyond uncertainty and discouragement 
has been attained in the past. As Mr. F. C. Constable 
remarked : 

"Many of us who have devoted our lives to psychical 
research can but have moments of profound depression. 
We feel our labours cannot be in vain, but we are faced 
by such a complexity of fraud, deliberate and uncon- 
scious, mal-observation, denial of scientific restrictions, 
and ignorance of what is trustworthy in evidence and 
deduction, that at times our search for truth seems as 
futile as the search of past alchemists for the philos- 
opher's stone." 



6 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

And even more forcibly Count Aksakof states the 
objections which have occurred to him: 

"As years went by, the weak points of spiritualism 
became more evident and more numerous. The insig- 
nificance of the communications, the poverty of their 
intellectual content, and finally the fraud, etc. — in short, 
a host of doubts, objections, and aberrations of every 
kind — greatly increased the difficulties of the problem. 
Such impressions were well calculated to discourage 
one, if, on the other hand, we had not at our disposal a 
series of indisputable facts." (Animism and Spirit- 
ism.) 

While this is doubtless true, it is nevertheless a fact 
that psychical research is, as yet, in its infancy; and it 
is in a sense unfair to judge the results by the few years 
of progress which have been possible in the past. For 
while other sciences — physics, chemistry, anatomy — are 
more than two thousand years old, psychical research 
is but forty years old — some of the original founders 
of the S.P.R. being still alive and actively engaged in 
the work! It is, then, somewhat premature to pro- 
nounce upon the ultimate outcome of the investigation, 
and we must wait for at least a hundred years or so 
before it will be possible to see whether or not the sub- 
ject has proved its claims and justified itself in the eyes 
of the world. And this view of the case is further sup- 
ported by the fact that, in so exact a science as cytology, 
but little definite can be said. Thus, Professor E. B. 
Wilson, on p. 434 of his work The Cell, says: "The 
study of the cell has, on the whole, seemed to widen 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 7 

rather than to narrow the enormous gap that separates 
even the lowest forms of life from the inorganic 
world." It will thus be seen that the uncertain and 
unsatisfactory condition of psychics is shared also by 
other branches of scientific investigation, and it is as yet 
too soon to say whether or not the ultimate verdict will 
swing in this direction or in that. We can only hope, 
and continue to experiment ! 

5. Psychical research, therefore, may continue to 
progress, in spite of the innate difficulties and the ob- 
stacles with which the subject is surrounded. It is our 
duty to see that it does! For it is certain that the 
subject will receive serious set-backs, from time to time, 
in the shape of unjust misrepresentations or bitter at- 
tacks from the outsiders, determined to "prove a case," 
even if the cause of truth be abandoned in order to do 
so. Take, e. g., the recent volume of Dr. Tanner and 
Dr. G. Stanley Hall (Studies in Spiritism) . They re- 
ceived certain "lying communications," in spite of Pro- 
fessor William James' warning that "the personalities 
are very suggestible" and that "every one is liable to 
get back from the trance very much what he puts into 
it." Even Deleuze could have told Drs. Tanner and 
Hall this fact — having ascertained it nearly a hundred 
years before (1813) ; for he wrote in his Critical His- 
tory of Animal Magnetism (pp. 134-5), in reply to 
those who would question the somnambulist upon points 
of practical advantage: 

"You will gain nothing; you will even lose the ad- 
vantages which you might derive from his lucidity. It 
is very possible that you could make him speak upon 



8 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

all the subjects of your indiscreet curiosity ; but in that 
case, as I have already warned you, you will make him 
leave his own sphere and introduce him into yours. He 
will no longer have any other resources than yourself. 
He will utter you very eloquent discourses, but they will 
no more be dictated by the internal inspirations. They 
will be the product of his recollections or of his imagina- 
tion; perhaps you will also rouse his vanity, and then 
all is lost ; he will not re-enter the circle from which he 
has wandered. . . . The two states cannot be con- 
founded. . . . These somnambulists are evidently in- 
fluenced by the persons who surround them, by the 
circumstances in which they are placed." 

And Dr. A. E. Fletcher, in The Other World and 
This, says: 

"Trance mediums, more than any others, are the vic- 
tims of the embodied and the disembodied. If the me- 
dium is subject to the influence of a spirit, how much 
more likely is he to be affected by the character of those 
around him! Strong minds in the body may take con- 
trol of his brain, instead of spirit intelligences. Such 
persons must be of a highly sensitive order, and cannot 
come under the same line of human criticism and judg- 
ment as might be applied to those in everyday life." 

Even Maudsley, in his Pathology of Mind (p. 77), 
says: 

"The main feature which the abnormal states (trance, 
etc.) present in common are: first, that coincident with 
a partial mental activity there is more or less inhibi- 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 9 

tion, which may be complete, of all other mental action ; 
secondly, that the individual in such condition of lim- 
ited mental activity is susceptible only to impressions 
which are in relation with his character and are conse- 
quently assimilated by it. . . . " 1 

These passages illustrate, at least, the delicate and 
often-times suggestible nature of the trance; and how 
inconclusive, to say the least, are such experiments as 
those of Drs. Tanner and Hall! 

6. On the other hand, it may be asked: If the mes- 
sages we receive at seances really do come from the de- 
parted, why should they be so fleeting and so uncertain 
as they are? And why should not many more messages 
be received from the hundreds and thousands who die 
yearly, and who are doubtless longing to communicate? 

Answers to these questions are manifold. In the first 
place, it may be pointed out that the ability to com- 
municate may be rare indeed, and not a universal pos- 
sibility, as is generally supposed. As Dr. Hodgson ex- 
pressed it (Proceedings, xiii., p. 362) : "It may be a 
completely erroneous assumption that all persons, young 
or old, good or evil, vigorous or sickly, and whatever 
their lives or deaths may have been, are at all com- 
parable with one another in their capacity to convey 
clear statements from the other world to this." Fur- 
ther, it must not be supposed that all "messages" re- 
ceived by mediums (even granting their complete hon- 

i (The copy of this book in my possession is the copy once owned 
by Dr. Hodgson — having his name in the front, and the date, 
April 1881. This passage is marked with a thick red pencil 
stroke, showing the importance which Dr. Hodgson attached to 
the point here made. 



10 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

esty) really issue from the "Great Beyond." Many 
mediums simply tell their sitters the ideas, impressions, 
and "messages" which come into their minds, and which 
they believe to come from external sources, i. e., "spir- 
its," but which, as a matter of fact, issue from their 
own sub-consciousness. These scraps of information re- 
semble "bubbles" breaking upon the surface of water — 
the finished product of latent incubation, and doubtless 
have every appearance and every feeling of external 
origin. Even if genuine spirit-messages are at times 
received, it is highly probable that the bulk of the mes- 
sages are the product of the medium 's subliminal, which 
catches up and amplifies the original external impetus 
received from without. Professor "William James be- 
lieved, e. g., the following: that "genuine messages have 
been given through Mrs. Piper's organism, but he also 
contended that every time an intelligence appeared, call- 
ing itself Hodgson, and beginning: 'Hello! Here I am 
again in the witness-box ! How are you, old chap ? ' etc., 
this was not Hodgson at all, but Mrs. Piper's subliminal, 
and that genuine supernormal information only came 
in 'touches' or 'impulses,' as it were, as though the 
spirit could touch or come into contact with the me- 
dium's mind at a number of points, making a number 
of 'dips down,' ... as it were, imparting information 
at each dip which the medium's mind thereupon seized 
upon, elaborated, and gave out in its own dramatic 
form and setting." If this be true of Mrs. Piper 
(whose messages are shot at you from a cannon's mouth, 
as it were), how much truer must it be of other types 
of mediums, in which the communications are certainly 
far less direct and impressive? Mrs. Piper might be 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 11 

styled the "possession" type of medium — as opposed to 
the "subliminal" type — commonly seen; and, as before 
said, if the messages be so indirect in the case of Mrs. 
Piper, how much more fragmentary and indirect must 
they be in the case of all other mediums — less developed 
and less direct than she? It is hardly to be wondered 
at that the information given is of the vaguest, the most 
hazy and indistinct character, and that recognition and 
proof of identity is almost an impossibility. 

7. As to the theory that comparatively few (of those 
who die) make good communicators, I may be permitted 
to suggest, perhaps, a tentative explanation of the rarity 
of good communicators (and communications), based 
upon this principle. Certain it is that special adapta- 
bility and idiosyncrasy are necessary to the one on this 
side — this constituting, in fact, a "medium," as we 
understand it. It seems highly probable that a medium 
is born and not made, that the gift is hereditary, and 
that it depends but little, if at all, upon physical, 
mental, or moral characteristics, but rather upon a pecu- 
liar and innate make-up which is independent of all of 
these. A person is a good psychic or medium just as 
another is a good painter or sculptor or pianist. It can 
be cultivated by training, but the "germ" must be 
latent within the individual, in order that its develop- 
ment may be possible at all. 

Granting all this, it seems to me very natural to sup- 
pose that some similar characteristic might be essential 
to the one on the "other side," in order that he might 
be a good communicator. Only a few might possess 
this special gift — without which communication would 
be impossible— no matter how gifted or clever the in- 



12 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

dividual might be, in other respects, or how much he 
longed to communicate. Further, it might be that this 
deceased person could only get en rapport with our 
world when some one on this side was also and simul- 
taneously endeavouring to reach him. Neither alone 
could effect the communication, could bridge the chasm. 

Let me make the theory clearer by means of an 
analogy. One theory of consciousness contends that it 
depends for its existence altogether upon the touching 
or inter-connection of certain nervous fibres, without 
which consciousness would be impossible, and is, in fact, 
abolished — as in sleep. When these "dendrites" touch, 
communication is established; when this contact is 
broken, it is non-existent. 

To apply the analogy. When a medium goes into a 
trance, she throws out (symbolically) psychic "arms," 
or pseudopodia, much as an octopus might feel about 
him with his tentacled arms. On the other side, a com- 
municator would also stretch out these mental arms, 
feeling about for something to grasp and cling to, 
something capable of receiving and transmitting the 
messages he desired to send. Only when these two 
groping arms find each other "in the dark," as it were, 
would communication become possible. If only one 
thus sought, nothing would result. The rare combina- 
tion of good sender and good recipient must be found 
before this communication is possible at all, and even 
then, they must both be striving to communicate at the 
same moment before any results follow. It is because 
of the rarity of this combination and this coincidence 
that mediumistic messages are so scarce. In addition 
to the earnest desire and longing on the other side, there 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 13 

must be a medium on this, capable of receiving the mes- 
sages. And when this medium is lacking (as is usually 
the case) no communications are received. This fully 
explains to us, it seems to me, why it is that messages 
of this nature are so rarely received : the necessary con- 
ditions on this side are lacking. 

8. Such a theory would also enable us to understand 
one fact, very puzzling to most investigators in this 
field. It is that one's friends and relatives are almost 
invariably present immediately the medium goes into 
the trance! Sometimes there is a wait, it is true, and 
they have to be "sent for," But as a rule they are 
"on tap" at once — and, no matter where we may be, 
they are there instant er — ready to communicate! 

Of course such facts naturally lead one to suppose, a 
priori, that these personages are not present at all, in 
reality, but merely the medium's subliminal, personify- 
ing these various personages — no spirit being concerned, 
directly or indirectly, with their production. This, I 
say, is the natural view of the facts. 

But on the theory above outlined the genuine nature 
of these messages may readily be assumed. Suppose 
our friends and relatives are more or less en rapport 
with us all the time (like "guardian angels"). Time 
and space need not be considered factors in the problem 
— since all spirits say that they do not exist in "their" 
world. Then, all we should have to do, in order to effect 
communication, would be to supply the necessary con- 
ditions on this side — when the chasm would at once be 
bridged, and communication established. 

(I wish it to be distinctly understood, however, that 
I consider the vast bulk of such messages the product of 



14 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

the medium's subliminal, and not at all coming from 
the source from which they claim to proceed. I am 
only arguing on general grounds for the possibility.) 

9. It will be seen that I have spoken throughout the 
above argument of the trance as a necessary condition 
for communication, or at least assumed that it is in- 
variably present. "Why should the trance state have 
this effect ? What is the nature of the trance, and what 
peculiarity within it renders these results possible? 

The sceptic might begin by questioning the fact it- 
self; but I think it now so well established that argu- 
ment on this score is unnecessary. Further, the deeper 
the trance, ceteris paribus, the better the phenomena. 
There is no denying that fact. While certain striking 
results are often obtained while the medium is in light 
trance, they are not nearly so striking as those which 
are obtained when the medium is in the deeper stage. 
And this applies, I believe, to mediums producing both 
mental and physical phenomena. The question there- 
fore remains: What happens in this trance state to 
render such results possible? Why should the peculiar 
condition involved be instrumental in producing such 
striking results? 

It must be admitted at once that the innermost na- 
ture of this trance state is unknown. Certainly no 
purely physiological explanation suffices to explain the 
"medium-trance," even were it sufficient to account for 
similar conditions better known. No matter what the 
condition of the medium's nerve centres may be, this 
would not account for the supernormal information 
given during the trance state. No matter how much 
nervous or mental "instability" or "disintegration" 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 15 

were postulated, it would not at all explain or elucidate 
the primary question : How is the supernormal informa- 
tion acquired? 

It seems to me that the answer to this question can 
only be found by assuming some such theory of the facts 
as the following: 

When a person falls asleep, he loses consciousness 
when en rapport with himself. 1 When he is placed in 
the "mesmeric" trance, he remains en rapport with the 
operator, and the deeper the trance, the more complete 
and effective this rapport is. Explain it as you will, 
the facts remain. The writings of the early mesmerists 
are filled with records of cases of this rapport, in which 
"community of sensation" was present, and various su- 
pernormal phenomena, such as clairvoyance, etc., were 
manifested. No such phenomena are recorded in hyp- 
notic seances, as a rule, which makes me suspect most 
strongly that mesmerism and hypnotism are not iden- 
tical, in spite of the general belief that they are funda- 
mentally one — all mesmeric phenomena being due to 
"suggestion." Of this, however, later. For the mo- 
ment, I wish only to draw attention to the fact that, 
during these deep trance states, rapport was noted, and 
supernormal information frequently given. 

i Might not this account for the fact that trance or "spirit 
control" practically never occurs during the hours of sleep? 
Even "obsessed" patients find peace and rest during their sleep- 
ing hours. Is this not, in all probability, due to the fact that 
the mind is, at such times, forced in upon itself; as it were — 
instead of being directed outwards — away from the centre of 
being, as it is daily, during conscious life? It is probably na- 
ture's protective device — ensuring the stability and integrity of 
the psychic "self." 



16 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

Now, it seems plausible to suppose that, by way of 
analogy, the medium trance would represent a trance 
state induced by hypnotism from the "other side." 
We know that telepathic hypnotism is a fact — the nu- 
merous cases recorded by Myers and Janet being good 
proof of this. Further, we know that dreams may be 
induced experimentally, by means of telepathic sugges- 
tion. (See Ermacora's paper, Proceedings, xi. 235- 
308.) Might we not assume, then, that the medium- 
trance represents a certain condition induced by in- 
fluence from deceased minds — which would fully ac- 
count for the supernormal information given (for the 
medium would be en rapport with these minds), and 
for the fact that the medium is not usually susceptible 
to suggestion, pain-tests, &c, on this side. The deeper 
the trance, the more the medium is in touch with the 
other world, the less with this; and vice versa. The 
medium-trance is, therefore, probably a hypnotic or 
mesmeric trance, induced telepathically by operators out 
of the body. 

10. "When the trance has been induced, however, how 
does the "spirit" succeed in imparting information to 
the medium's brain and organism? Inasmuch as the 
phenomena are usually of the motor type — speech or 
writing — the motor centres in the brain must somehow 
be employed; how they are employed, and whether 
other centres in addition to these are used is a question 
calling for solution — but one which will take probably 
years of patient research to solve. 

As we know, Dr. Hodgson was of the opinion that the 
ordinary centres were not used in the production of the 
automatic writing, for he said (Proceedings, xiii. pp. 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 17 

398-9) : "What the precise relation is between this 
consciousness and the movements of the hand I do not 
know. I do not know whether or not the motor centres 
of the brain ordinarily concerned in the movements of 
hand and arm are in operation or not. I incline to 
think not — certainly not in the ordinary way. ..." 
The statement of the "controls" is that they use the 
"empty corners" of Mrs. Piper's brain — which prob- 
ably means that certain unused areas are pressed into 
service, as far as possible, in the production of the 
phenomena. Still, this is not very definite information ! 
Another theory offered by the communicators is that 
they get into contact with the ' ' light, ' ' think their 
thoughts, and these thoughts are then registered or 
expressed in motor phenomena — speech or writing. 
What the "light" may be, we have not the slightest 
means of knowing, but it is a very significant fact that 
a "light" of this nature is nearly always associated 
with spiritual phenomena. We hear of the "interior 
illumination" of the saints and martyrs, and of those 
who have experienced an influx of "cosmic conscious- 
ness"; of the "halo" which surrounds the heads of 
holy persons; of the "internal light" experienced by 
many who have had a special conversion or illumina- 
tion; of the "aura" surrounding the bodies of certain 
individuals — always perceptible to clairvoyants, and 
lately (it is asserted) to any one who observes the sub- 
ject through specially prepared chemical screens; 1 of 
the "light" diffusing itself over the region of the fore- 

i Kilner, The Human Atmosphere. I myself have conducted 
a number of interesting experiments in this direction, which I 
hope to make public at a later date. 



18 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

head, which certain mesmeric subjects have inwardly 
perceived, 1 and of the "aura" which may be produced 
experimentally by means of high-tension electric cur- 
rents. We must not forget, also, that Christ Himself 
is called "the light of the world," and that He once 
made the very significant remark: "If thine eye be sin- 
gle, thy whole body shall be full of light.'' Lastly, it 
is somewhat significant, it seems to me, that Andrew 
Jackson Davis used to see the nervous system of the 
person he was studying, while in the "superior condi- 
tion," as light — as though it were illuminated by some 
interior glow, or was more or less phosphorescent. 
(And we know that phosphorus is certainly connected 
with the activities of the nervous system — even though 
it be not so intimately as before supposed.) This 
string of coincidences is at least remarkable; and it 
will be observed that the "light" is usually associated 
with nervous centres and nervous activity — for the head, 
e. g., is certainly the part most highly illumined, as a 
rule; while it is certainly the seat of the most active 
self -consciousness. 

11. These facts throw an interesting side-light, also, 
upon another oft-observed phenomenon in psychical re- 
search. I refer to the fact that apparitions ("ghosts") 
are nearly always seen to be clear and distinct as to the 
head and upper portions of the body, while they taper 
off to vapour and "filmy nothingness" in the lower 
limbs, so that often the feet are not visible at all. 
While this may be due in part to the fact that the ob- 
server's attention is not directed to the lower limbs, but 
more or less centred upon the head and face, it ap- 

i Townsend, Facts in Mesmerism, p. 215. 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 19 

pears to me that there may be another interpretation 
of the facts, more in accordance with the phenomena 
above mentioned, which is this: 

During life we are conscious of our body in varying 
degrees — of the head most of all, then of the arms and 
upper portions of the body; and finally, of the lower 
limbs and feet, we are, a large part of the time, hardly 
conscious at all. Now, if the light accompanies nervous 
activity, and is present in proportion to it, it is obvious 
that those portions of the organism would have most 
''light" which were most active mentally — i.e., the 
brain and those portions of the nervous system control- 
ling the hands, face, and upper portions of the body — 
while those portions which had become entirely auto- 
matic and unconscious in their activity would have least 
light — being physiological to the point almost of being 
mechanical. If this "light" corresponded in any way 
to visibility, therefore, it would only be natural to sup- 
pose that the face and upper portions of the phantasmal 
figure should be more or less distinctly visible, to one 
at all sensitive to such impressions, while the lower por- 
tions of the figure would fade into practical invisibil- 
ity, — owing to lack of ' ' light. ' ' This explanation would 
certainly be in accord with the facts, as we know them, 
regarding phantasmal figures. 

12. "We are still far from the answer to our question, 
however : How does spirit act upon matter, and in what 
way does the spirit manipulate the nervous mechanism 
of the medium, during the process of communication? 
Let us now consider this question further. 

Andrew Jackson Davis, in his Great Harmonia, vol. i. 
pp. 55-65, discussed this problem, and stated that 



2Q PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

"spirit acts upon the bodily organism anatomically, 
physiologically, mechanically, chemically, electrically, 
magnetically, and spiritually." The trouble with such 
a statement is that it explains nothing (even as elab- 
orated by him), and that it is far easier to believe, e. g., 
that one part of the body acts chemically and mechan- 
ically, etc., upon another part than to suppose that 
"spirit" has anything to do with the affair whatever. 
To postulate its activity would be merely to multiply 
causes without necessity. 

Just here, it might be interesting to inquire what the 
modern conception is as to the relation of mind and 
brain — of soul and body; and particularly the ques- 
tion of the ' ' seat ' ' of the soul — that central point which 
was, until late years, always considered necessary as a 
fulcrum or point of contact upon which the soul might 
act. 

The older psychologists and philosophers always took 
such a "seat" for granted — Descartes, as we know, im- 
agining that the pineal gland occupied that important 
function. But as the science of psychology progressed, 
this notion was more and more given up, until the 
prevailing opinion of late years seems to be that the 
whole of the cortex is equally the seat of consciousness, 
and that its total functioning is responsible for the 
psychical activities which we know under the head of 
personality or individuality or ego. 

It is interesting to note, however, that Dr. Frederick 
Peterson, of Columbia University, New York, has lately 
put forward the theory that there is, or may be, a seat 
of consciousness, after all ! In a striking article in the 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 21 

Journal of Abnormal Psychology (vol. iii. No. 5), he 
says : — 

"I will say at once that the 'seat' of that power which 
produces the manifestations of consciousness is in the 
basal ganglia (probably the corpora striata), and that 
consciousness is a peculiar summation of energy at that 
point, capable of being directed, like the rays of a 
searchlight, into this or that portion of the brain." 

Dr. Peterson then goes on to give some facts which 
seem to him to support this view. Among these are 
the phenomena of sleep (the reasons being too long to 
detail here) ; the fact that, although every individual 
brain is stored full of experiences, only a small area is 
illuminated by consciousness at any one moment; and 
the phenomena of epilepsy — concerning which Dr. Peter- 
son speaks in the following terms: 

' ' The one disorder which has led me to think much of 
this subject is epilepsy, in which disease, loss of con- 
sciousness is the most extraordinary and often the only 
symptom. I allude chiefly to such remarkable conditions 
as the tic de salaam and the other forms of petit mal, 
in which the patient drops suddenly to the floor with 
loss of consciousness, and quite as suddenly rises again 
in full possession of his faculties. I have watched such 
cases for hours, and always with increasing marvel. 
The loss of consciousness is complete, and often lasts 
but a fraction of a second. How account for such phe- 
nomenon! If consciousness were a diffused attribute 
of the whole brain, what spasm of blood-vessels or other 



22 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

physical process familiar to us could act and be adjusted 
with such speed? If, however, the 'seat' of conscious- 
ness be limited to some very small portion of the brain, 
some physical process such as is suggested could easily 
account for the instantaneous loss and regaining of con- 
sciousness. ' ' 

Other facts in support of this theory are given, and 
the statement of Dr. C. L. Dana that, in poisoning by 
illuminating gas, the chief symptom is loss of conscious- 
ness, and the only lesion discovered is softening of the 
corpora striata; then the following : 

"Assuming now that it were proved that the power 
which creates consciousness has some definite seat, and 
that it is a summation of energies physiologically vary- 
ing in sleep and waking, which may be directed to any 
part of our store of experiences for purposes of illumi- 
nation, what portion of the brain is so constructed as to 
be in apparently intimate connection with every other? 
The corpora striata! . . . There is no portion of the 
brain we know so little of. . . . Here we have a portion 
of the brain which must be of enormous significance, 
otherwise it would not be always present, from the fish 
up to man." 

It will be seen that Dr. Peterson is here opposed to 
the doctrine maintained by both Lotze 1 and Mac- 
Dougall, 2 who both maintained that : ' ' There are a num- 
ber of separate points in the brain which form so many 
'seats' of the soul. Each of these would be of equal 

1 Metaphysick, bk. iii. ch. v. 

2 Body and Mind, pp. 299-300. 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 23 

value with the rest; at each of them the soul would be 
present with equal completeness." But whether there 
be one or several "seats" of consciousness, it is obvious 
that there must be contact of some sort, at one or sev- 
eral points (granting the correctness of the theory that 
spirit acts upon matter at all), and the question is: 
How may this action be supposed to take place? 

In discussing this question in a former book 1 I said : 

"It is more than probable, it seems to me, that there 
exists some sort of etheric medium between mind and 
even organic nervous tissue, upon which the mind must 
act first of all. Thus, we should have the chain of 
connection : mind, vital or etheric medium, nervous tis- 
sue, muscle, bone. So mind acts upon matter; and it 
will be seen that there is an increasing density of struc- 
ture, and that just in proportion to this density is mind 
incapable of affecting matter directly. We must, it 
seems to me, always postulate some sort of etheric me- 
dium through which mind acts, in order to affect and 
move matter — organic or inorganic. And without this 
vital intermediary there can be no action, and conse- 
quently no manifestation." 

Now, it would appear rational to suppose that some 
action of this sort takes place when mind acts upon, or 
influences, matter. Air is invisible, and practically im- 
perceptible to our senses — when stationary. But set 
into motion, a current of air will close a door with a 
bang — will have the effect of definitely moving a heavy 
mass of inanimate matter, in the manner indicated. It 

* Eusapia Palladino and her Phenomena, pp. 293-301. 



24 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

may be that in somewhat the same way mind affects 
brain. Mind may reside in a sort of etheric vehicle, 
and be more or less stable or stationary, save at the 
times when volition or intense, active conscious opera- 
tions are in progress — when, in short, effort is exerted. 
At such times, it is surely conceivable that what was 
static becomes dynamic ; something is set into motion 
which in turn brings into activity some more "phys- 
ical ' ' energy, and so on, until sufficient material momen- 
tum has been gained to affect that most unstable and 
mobile substance, nervous tissue. It is certainly quite 
conceivable that certain nervous centres in the brain 
(which centres, we cannot say) might be set into ac- 
tual operation by some such process ; or at least that the 
impulse or energy supplied in this manner might be 
sufficient to release the nervous energy stored in the cell, 
much as the trigger of a rifle would, when pressed, re- 
lease the energy contained within the cartridge. Such 
"hair trigger" action has been postulated by both 
William James and Bergson, and is certainly in line 
with modern speculations in this direction. There are 
also certain analogies to be drawn from physical sci- 
ence to guide us here. 

In electricity, e.g., what are known as "relays" are 
constantly employed, and beautifully illustrate the 
principle here outlined. In working over long lines, 
or where there are a number of instruments in one 
circuit, the currents are often not strong enough to 
work the recording instruments directly. In such a 
case there is interposed a "relay" or "repeater." 
This instrument consists of an electro-magnet round 
which the line current flows, and whose delicately-poised 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE ? 25 

armature, when attracted, makes contact for a local 
circuit, in which a local battery and the receiving" 
Morse instrument (sounder, writer, etc.) are included. 
The principle of the relay is, then, that a current too 
weak to do the work itself may get a strong local cur- 
rent to do its work for it. 

It may be the same in the case of mental action. 
Volition or thought may be too weak, per se, to influence 
nervous processes; but, when exceptionally active or 
potent, they may set into activity specific nerve en- 
ergies which manifest in the manner known to us as 
motor and physical phenomena. Here is, it seems to 
me, a rational explanation of the facts, and one which 
is in accord, not only with ordinary psychological phe- 
nomena, but with those more puzzling and obscure 
manifestations witnessed from time to time in psychic 
research. 

13. It may be objected that such a conception of the 
facts supposes that will (and conscious thought) are 
physical energies — for however slight we make this en- 
ergy, it is still energy none the less. The air which 
closed the door would not move it of itself — unless some 
pressure were exerted upon it from without. Could 
"life" act otherwise? 

One reply to this objection is that the distinguishing 
characteristic of life is this very power of original, 
spontaneous movement. It is life, and life alone, which 
possesses this power. Were this doctrine true, it would 
of course upset the present theory of the Conservation 
of Energy, for it would admit the constant infusion 
into the world of energy from without. Despite the 
theoretical difficulty thus presented, it seems probable 



26 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

that life is, in a certain sense, a physical energy, or 
at least its manifestation is. It is possible that the 
two states are similar to the difference between potential 
and kinetic energy; and we must remember that energy 
is always noticed or experienced by us, as energy, in its 
expenditure, never in its accumulation. 1 

If life be a physical force, if vitality be a specific 
energy, then, it seems to me, many things fall into line 
— many phenomena, hitherto inexplicable, become at 
once intelligible. 

Let me illustrate this conclusion by mentioning a few 
such facts: 

Take, for instance, the phenomena manifested in the 
presence of Eusapia Palladino. I shall not now stop to 
discuss the reality of these manifestations, because I 
consider them just as certain as any other facts in life, 
and not at all open to discussion. Now, in these phe- 
nomena there is an intelligence of some sort at work 
producing them; that is certain. But as to the nature 
of this intelligence — what it is — that is altogether an- 
other matter, and a much more difficult question to an- 
swer. Whether this be a low order of deceiving and 
"lying spirits," as Professor Barrett and others are 
apparently inclined to believe, or whether it be a frac- 
tion of the medium's own mind (Flournoy, Morselli), 
or whether it be the spirit it claims to be, or whether 

1 Vitality, Fasting and Nutrition, p. 41. For discussions of 
this question from a variety of different points of view, see Life 
and Matter, by Lodge; The Riddle of the Universe, Haeckel; The 
Correlation of Spiritual Forces, by Hartmann; "Consciousness 
and Force," Met. Mag., Oct. 1910; the article on "Consciousness 
and Energy," by Professor Montague, in Essays in Honour of 
William James, and pp. 283-5 of The New Realism, etc. 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 27 

it belongs to some other even more doubtful order of in- 
telligence, such as postulated by the Theosophists and 
certain Mystics and Occultists, that is a question which 
we cannot at present answer, and for which we may 
have to wait for several hundred years before one can 
be satisfactorily given. 

But, granting the reality of the phenomena, they 
themselves demand solution, solely from the point of 
view of physics and physiology, and quite aside from 
the nature of the intelligence with which they are at 
times associated. The facts themselves still need eluci- 
dation. 

Some years ago a gentleman of my acquaintance 
started out with the intention of constructing a tele- 
phone by means of which it would be possible to speak 
directly to the spirit world! He had in mind great 
delicacy of apparatus, a system of "relays," by means 
of which it would be possible to augment an initial 
stimulus, however slight, a magnifying apparatus which 
would greatly increase the volume of sound, on the lines 
of the ampliphone and the microphone, etc. I do not 
believe that very definite results were ever achieved, 
and he is still at work upon the problem. Needless to 
say, this idea of his was ridiculed in all quarters; but 
I myself do not see any valid reason why some such de- 
vice should not succeed — provided, of course, that a 
spiritual world exists at all. If such a world exists, 
if the intelligences which reside therein can at times 
produce physical phenomena, then it is certainly con- 
ceivable that some energy may be set into operation 
which may produce the desired results — some energy 
which we, too, can utilize and which the spiritual entity 



28 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

can also manipulate ; in other words, an energy common 
to the two worlds. Were such, a common medium or 
mediator found, communication would certainly be es- 
tablished, and it only remains for us to discover the 
common energy. Personally, I believe that this inter- 
mediary is most probably vitality — the life-force, with- 
out the presence of which such manifestations would 
be impossible. A living, human being is necessary, 
upon whose presence these phenomena depend, and 
without whom they could not occur. It is thus obvious 
that there is a definite connection between these phe- 
nomena and life, which can hardly be due to chance; it 
must stand in some intimate and causal relation. 1 

14. Many students of psychical phenomena believe 
that, in the case of Eusapia Palladino, e. g., this con- 

i Bulwer Lytton, with his usual remarkable foresight in things 
psychic, clearly perceived this. In his story, "The Haunters and 
the Haunted," he says: "In all that I had witnessed, and indeed 
in all the wonders which the amateurs of mystery in our age 
record as facts, a material human agency is always required. 
On the Continent you will still find magicians who assert that 
they can raise spirits. Assume for a moment that they assert 
truly, still the living, material form of the magician is present, 
and he is the material agency by which, from some constitu- 
tional peculiarities, certain strange phenomena are represented 
to your natural senses. . . . Accept again as truthful the tales 
of spirit manifestation in America, produced by no discernible 
hand — articles of furniture moved about without visible human 
agency — or the actual sight and touch of hands to which no 
bodies seem to belong — still there must be found the "medium," 
or living being, with constitutional peculiarities capable of ob- 
taining these signs. In fine, in all such marvels, supposing even 
that there is no imposture, there must be a human being like 
ourselves, by whom, or through whom, the effects presented to 
human beings are produced." 



IS PSYCHICAL EESEARCH A SCIENCE? 29 

nection is clearly discernible, and that it is upon the 
externalization of her vital force that many of these 
phenomena depend. Even the materializations are 
thought to be due to this same cause — due to the mould- 
ing, in space, of this plastic intermediary projected be- 
yond the limits of her bodily organism. Certain it is 
that such a projection does at times take place, and it 
seems rational to suppose that "raps" may be due to 
the explosive expulsion of this neural energy after it 
has reached a certain "tension." One quite striking 
incident which has been narrated to me by a physician 
of my acquaintance tends rather to confirm this view. 
It is that, when he was trying on various occasions to 
move a table, a la Palladino, he failed to do so, but 
whenever he lifted his hands away from the table, 
"sparkling" took place between his hands and the 
table-top, closely resembling the electric spark which 
jumps from point to point when the tension has reached 
a certain limit. 

Another interesting fact, related to me by the same 
physician, serves to throw a light upon the connection 
of vital and physical energies. The doctor in question 
was treating a patient, who was apparently "obsessed," 
by means of electricity. The galvanometer needle 
showed what slight variations in the current there were 
during the course of the treatment. In the middle of 
the process, while the patient was conversing with the 
doctor, she was suddenly "obsessed." Coincidental 
with this obsession, the galvanometer showed a tremen- 
dous and permanent fluctuation, indicating that the re- 
sistance of the body to the current had suddenly and 
greatly changed! 



30 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

Whatever view we may take of the facts, here is, at 
least, a striking incident, which the current theories of 
the varying causes of bodily resistance (in these psycho- 
galvanic reflexes) hardly serve to explain. Can it be 
that the subject's "etheric body" was in some way dis- 
turbed by an invading intelligence, and that this dis- 
turbance was manifested in the fluctuations recorded? 
Is there a nervous fluid, after all, as the magnetizers 
and mesmerists contend so strongly, but which has been 
relegated to oblivion since the advent of suggestion and 
hypnotism? Personally, I believe that there is, and I 
shall indicate very briefly some of my reasons for think- 
ing so. 

In the first place, the modern hypnotist can very 
rarely succeed in cultivating clairvoyance in his sub- 
ject, whereas the records of mesmerism teem with cases 
which were developed under the old regime. Surely the 
dissimilarity in the effect points to a dissimilarity of 
cause. It has always appeared to me highly probable 
that mesmerism and hypnotism are dependent upon en- 
tirely different causes, and were not at all the same in 
the last analysis. 

In the second place, the exhaustion which "healers" 
sometimes experience when treating patients of a cer- 
tain temperament can hardly be due altogether to sug- 
gestion. I have been informed by "magnetic" and 
"spiritual" healers that this feeling of exhaustion is 
very great when a self-centred, selfish person is being 
treated, and correspondingly less whenever a generous, 
large-souled individual is receiving the treatment. ' ' Os- 
teopaths" have told me the same thing. Those pos- 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 31 

sessing an active mind and brain, and who are analy- 
tical and unsympathetic by nature, are far harder to 
treat, and leave a far greater exhaustion, than those 
who are not so. This bears a very striking resemblance 
to the "good" and "bad" sitters in the Piper case, 
and also the Palladino case ; in fact, it is true of every- 
day life, to a certain extent. The more active the mind, 
the greater the grasp over life and self which we pos- 
sess, the less susceptible are we to external or internal 
influences. Let us call to mind in this connection the 
remark of Dr. Snow in his treatise on Anaesthetics, that 
"the more intelligent the patient, the more anaesthetic 
is required to put him under." 

Thirdly, the phenomena presented by Eusapia Palla- 
dino completely prove the reality of such a "fluid" to 
my mind, without any other proof being necessary. 

Fourthly, the impression said to be left in or upon 
objects or houses, and the phenomena of "psychometry" 
seem to indicate the same thing. 

Fifthly, the recent reinforcement of the evidence in 
favour of the human "aura" strongly supports the 
same view. 

Sixthly, the French experiments in "exterioriza- 
tion of sensibility," "thought-photography," "radio- 
graphs," etc., point to the same conclusion. 

Seventhly, the successful experiments conducted by 
Professor Alrutz and others with his instrument — which 
is thought to register "will power" — is a long step 
towards recognizing the existence of a nervous, vital 
energy, which can at times be externalized and made 
to pass into and "charge" an inanimate object. 



32 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

Finally, the facts of materialization and kindred phe- 
nomena, which find so ready and complete an explana- 
tion on this theory. 

For these and other reasons, therefore, it seems fairly 
certain that there is a nervous "fluid" which can at 
times he externalized beyond the normal bodily limits, 
which is operative in mesmeric "passes," and which 
plays so large and hitherto unsuspected a part in the 
production of many physical and psychical phenomena. 

15. As we know, it is this "fluid" which is drawn 
upon, so it is said, by materializing mediums for the 
production of their phantoms, and the following inter- 
esting experience seems to confirm this view. I quote 
verbatim: 

"It was an autumn afternoon, about six o'clock. I 
had returned from a stroll in the garden, and was in my 
own room, sitting on a single-backed easy-chair, leisurely 
dipping into Vanity Fair. While turning over the 
pages in search of some favourite passage, I became 
aware of an abnormal and quite indescribable sensation. 
My chest and breathing seemed inwardly oppressed by 
some ponderous weight, while I became conscious of 
some presence behind me, exerting a powerful influence 
on the forces within. On trying to turn my head to 
see what this could be, I was powerless to do so, neither 
could I lift a hand or move in any way. I was not a 
little alarmed and began immediately to reason. Was 
it a fainting fit coming on, epilepsy, paralysis — possibly 
even death? No, the mind was too much alive, though 
physically I felt an absolutely passive instrument, oper- 
ated upon by some powerful external agent, as if the 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 33 

current of nerve-force within seemed forcibly drawn to- 
gether and focussed on a spot in front of me. I gazed 
motionless, as though fascinated, on what was no longer 
vacant space. There an oval, misty light was forming, 
elongatory, widening — yes, actually developing into a 
human face and form ! Was this hallucination, or some 
vision of the unseen, coming in so unexpected fashion? 
Before me had arisen a remarkable figure, never seen 
before in picture or life — dark-skinned, aged, with white 
beard, the expression intensely earnest, the features 
small, the bald head finely moulded, lofty over the fore- 
head, the whole demeanour instinct with solemn grace. 
The hands, too, how unlike any hands I knew, yet how 
expressive ! They were dark, long in fingers and narrow 
in palms, the veins like sinews, standing out as they 
moved to and fro in eager gesture. He was speaking to 
me in deep tones, as if in urgent entreaty. What would 
I not give to hear words from such a figure! But no 
effort availed me to distinguish one articulate sound. 
I tried to speak, but could not. With desperate effort 
I shook out the words, ' ' Speak louder ! ' ' The face grew 
more intent, the voice louder and more emphatic. Was 
there something amiss in my own hearing, then, that I 
could distinguish no word amidst these deeply empha- 
sized tones? Slowly and deliberately the figure van- 
ished, through the same stages of indistinctness, back 
to the globular, lamp-like whiteness, till it faded into 
nothingness. Before it had quite faded away, the face 
of a woman arose, indistinct and calm. The same em- 
phatic hum, though in a subdued note, indistinct and 
dim. The same paralysis of voice and muscle, the same 
strange force, as if it were overshadowing me. With the 



34 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

disappearance of this second and far less interesting 
figure, I recovered my power of movement, and arose. 

"My first impulse was to look round for the origin 
of this strange force; my second was to rush to the 
looking-glass to make sure I was myself. There could 
be no delusion! There I was, paler than usual, and 
greatly agitated; I walked hurriedly to and fro. True, 
there had been nothing alarming in the apparition it- 
self, but the sensation preceding had been vivid in the 
extreme. What was it ? "Was it night, or had I been in 
some strange sleep ? Certainly not ! Was I in my right 
mind? I believed so. Then, if so, and the conditions 
being the same, would it be possible to bring back this 
strange phenomenon that I might know it had really 
existed, whether subjectively or objectively? Like an 
inspiration I determined that, if this experience had a 
basis in objective or subjective fact, it might certainly 
recur. I would sit down in the same position, try to 
feel calm, open a book, and remain as still and passive 
as I could. To my intense interest, and almost at once, 
the strange sense of some power operating on the nerve- 
forces within, followed by the same loss of muscular 
power, the same wide-awakeness of the reason, the same 
drawing out and concentrating of the energies on that 
spot in front, repeated itself, this time more deliberately, 
leaving me freer to take mental notes of what was hap- 
pening. Again rose the same noble, earnest figure, gaz- 
ing at me, the hands moving in accompaniment to the 
deep tones of voice. The same painful effort on my 
part to hear, with no result. The vision passed. Again 
the woman's face, insignificant and meaningless, suc- 
ceeded it as before. She spoke, but in less emphatic 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 35 

tones. It flashed upon me I would hear. After a fran- 
tic effort, I caught two words — "land," "America" 
— with positively no clue to their meaning. 

"I was wide awake when the first apparition ap- 
peared, and in a highly excited state of mind on its 
reappearance. ' ' 

This case strikes me as particularly interesting, for 
the reason that it illustrates the possible manner of the 
externalization of forces, and the possible manner of 
their guidance and manipulation by outside intelli- 
gences, as postulated in Eusapia Palladino, p. 300. 
Here we see the process actually at work, as it were, 
described by a careful observer, who was perfectly con- 
scious all the time of the phenomena going on within 
him. This is, to my mind, a human document of no 
little importance. 

It appears quite credible, therefore, that a "fluid" 
of some sort does exist, and that its liberation, under 
certain peculiar conditions, should produce odd physical 
phenomena; and this conviction has been rendered 
almost a certainty by the unique experiments of Dr. 
Ochorowiez with his medium, Mile. Tomczyk. A brief 
summary of that case will make this apparent. 

For many years experiments of the kind here re- 
corded have been in progress, but the path has always 
been blocked by fraud and innumerable difficulties. Dr. 
Ochorowiez did, however, apparently succeed in ob- 
taining photographs of human radiations, of thoughts, 
and even of materialized hands ! What are they ? 
Are they the hands of "spirits," inhabitants of the 
"Great Beyond"? Are they astrals or elementals? 



36 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

Are they projections from the body of the medium? 
Of what can they consist? Who directs and guides 
them? And how can a thought be photographed? 

These newer researches into the fields of science have 
been undertaken, for the most part, by French investi- 
gators, who have progressed very far in their demon- 
strations and speculations in this direction — much fur- 
ther, it may be said, than either the English or Ameri- 
can investigators have advanced — assuming, of course, 
the accuracy of their conclusions! 

Dr. Ochorowicz had been known for thirty years to all 
researchers as a careful investigator. Professor Charles 
Richet of the University of Paris spoke of him in the 
highest terms, and regarded him as "an exceptionally 
careful and cautious investigator." His book, Mental 
Suggestion, which was published early in the eighties, 
is considered an authority, and his general erudition 
and scientific attainments no one could question. For 
many years he was professor in the University of Lem- 
berg. 

Several years ago a young girl, Mile. Stanislaw 
Tomezyk, then about eighteen years old, was sent to 
Dr. Ochorowicz for medical treatment. She suffered 
greatly from nervousness. In order to bring about re- 
lief Dr. Ochorowicz hynotized her, inducing somnambu- 
lism ; and in this state she displayed, quite spontane- 
ously, a number of " mediumistic " phenomena. This 
proved to be the beginning of her mediumship. She 
possessed a power unknown to herself; and it probably 
would have remained for ever unknown had she not 
fallen into the hands of a man such as Dr. Ochorowicz. 
By the average physician she would, most probably, 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 37 

have been treated as hysterical or insane; but careful 
analysis and training caused her to become, instead, one 
of the most remarkable psychics the world has ever 
known. 

Her early trials and tests were simple enough. A 
glass clock, possessing a pointer, was hung up in the 
centre of the room, and Mile. Tomczyk was told to will 
that the pointer, when set revolving, should stop at a 
certain number. Generally she pointed with her finger 
at the indicator, keeping her hand a few centimetres 
distant. The indicator generally, though not invariably, 
stopped at the number desired — at any rate, a far 
greater number of times than Dr. Ochorowicz or any 
other person could cause it to stop when trying the ex- 
periments themselves. The clock belonged to Dr. Ocho- 
rowicz, and was innocent of trickery. 

The next experiments consisted in raising or "levi- 
tating" small objects from the table — by placing the 
medium's hands on either side of them. Sometimes the 
object would be raised from Dr. Ochorowicz 's hand in- 
stead — while he was holding it. Of course the natural 
supposition is that a thread or hair of some sort was 
employed, but this possibility was eliminated in a num- 
ber of ways. 

It must be remembered that all these manifestations 
took place when the medium was in a state of induced 
somnambulism. She remembered nothing when awak- 
ened of what had occurred. But now something curious 
and interesting demanded special attention. A distinct 
personality, calling itself "Little Stasia," began to de- 
velop. This personality asserted that she, and not the 
medium, was responsible for the physical manifestations 



38 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

we have recorded. She said (through the mouth of the 
entranced somnambule) that she was not an independent 
spirit, but a creation, an individuality, similar to the 
"alternating personalities" so well known to us. There 
would be no difficulty in accepting this estimate, were it 
not for the awkward fact that this little being was pho- 
tographed on one occasion and seen to be a small, inde- 
pendent creature, existing apart from the medium! 
This is how it came about. 

Through the entranced medium instructions were 
given to focus a camera upon a certain chair — having 
first placed a shawl over the back. This was done. Dr. 
Ochorowicz and Mile. Tomczyk then left the room to- 
gether. At the end of a certain length of time they 
returned, developed the plate, and upon it was found the 
distinct imprint of a small child's face, apparently be- 
longing to a body, seated in the chair, and swathed 
around with the shawl in question! The experiment 
was performed in the hotel where they happened to be 
stopping; the photographic camera and plates were Dr. 
Ochorowicz 's own, and the medium was out of the room, 
in the doctor's company throughout. It has never been 
explained. 

Such is a brief account of the more interesting experi- 
ments conducted during the early years of this medium 's 
development. In later years her powers, under the 
skilled guidance of (the late) Dr. Ochorowicz, took an- 
other turn and provided some of the most interesting and 
striking manifestations in the history of this subject, 
as, for example, his experiments in the photography 
of ' ' fluidic " or " materialized ' ' hands, and also in 
thought-photography. 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 39 

These photographs of fluidic hands Dr. Ochorowicz 
calls ' ' radiographs, ' ' because they can only be explained 
by supposing that the fluidic hand, which is placed upon 
the photographic plate, is in some way radio-active dur- 
ing the process. In no other way can the facts be ex- 
plained. Even supposing, for the sake of argument, 
that the psychic could in some way have placed her own 
hands on the plates, they would not have produced the 
results obtained — as any one can prove to his own satis- 
faction. 

These impressions upon photographic plates were ob- 
tained ' ' mediumistically " — that is,, in more or less com- 
plete darkness, and without any apparatus. Not only 
were all known forms of radiation thus excluded, but 
the impression was direct, and obtained without camera, 
focussing, etc. The impressions of hands obtained were 
of various shapes and sizes, both larger and smaller 
than those of the medium (who, of course, was the only 
other person present), peculiarly deformed hands and 
partially formed hands, according to the degree of suc- 
cess of the experiment, and the desire of the medium. 

These hands can only be produced in the presence, 
and with the assistance, of a good "physical medium," 
in more or less darkness, and are taken by means of 
a peculiar light which the hands seem to create for 
themselves. Sometimes the hands were visible to both 
the medium and Dr. Ochorowicz, sometimes visible only 
to the medium, sometimes invisible to both. We are 
assured that in the series of tests under consideration 
the impressions were obtained only when the psychic 
was deeply entranced, and then only at certain times. 

On a number of occasions the psychic placed her 



40 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

hand upon the plate, and its impression was left upon 
it. The hands were photographed by means of a form 
of light radiating from the hands themselves. On one 
occasion, Dr. Ochorowicz held the plate against the me- 
dium's ear; the ear itself was not photographed, but 
the side of the head, the hair, and particularly the hair- 
pins were. On two occasions a leaf was placed between 
the hands and the plate, and the outline of the leaf was 
left upon the latter. From these experiments it was 
concluded that the rays — whatever they might be — were 
emitted by the "etheric body" (the "astral" body, the 
"double") and not by the physical body, since their 
intensity did not seem to correspond in any way to the 
anatomical distribution of the nerves. 

These rays may be centred and concentrated by the 
action of the will of the subject. They radiate from 
the surface of the skin and reproduce a simulacrum, as 
it were, of the surface. They throw a shadow of any 
object placed between the subject and the photographic 
plate. They are more penetrating than the rays dis- 
covered by M. Darget, and brought to the attention 
of the French Academy several years ago. Interesting 
analogies may exist here between these rays and the 
so-called "Black Light" of M. Le Bon, which he de- 
scribes at length in his work, The Evolution of Forces. 

It was now determined to attempt more interesting 
and startling experiments. The medium was requested 
to hold her right hand in the air, where it could be seen 
plainly, against the faint red light in the room. It was 
not moved throughout the experiment. In his own 
laboratory Dr. Orchorowicz then procured a fresh plate 
and held it in the air, at some distance from the hand 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 41 

of the medium. The latter then said: "Ah, I see an- 
other right hand detaching itself from my arm and 
approaching the plate. How it pains me! Yes, it is 
placing itself over the plate — it is done. ' ' 

Dr. Ochorowicz then took the plate with him at once 
to the dark room and, when it was developed, there was 
found the outline of an unformed hand — one apparently 
in the process of condensation. It was, as it were, a 
hand in embryo. It had apparently become detached, 
or had detached itself, from the medium, and remained 
sufficiently solid to leave an impression of itself upon the 
plate, held about half a metre from it. It was, in fact, 
a form of materialization, but of so shadowy a texture 
that it remained often quite invisible to the onlooker. 

A long series of experiments is then described, which 
might be condensed somewhat as follows: — 

"The somnambule said that she did not see the dou- 
ble's hand leave hers, but saw it placed upon the plate. 
It was placed upon it at an angle of ninety degrees 
from the position taken by her own hand. At my re- 
quest the thumb was made particularly distinct, the 
whole hand being quite different in contour from that 
of the medium. 

"I take another plate, and hold it some distance from 
the medium's hand. She makes an effort to impress it, 
with the result that an immense finger, superhuman in 
size, is seen upon the plate when developed. Upon the 
next plate, which I hold about twenty-five centimetres 
from her hands, three fingers appear, non-luminous — 
the light seeming to come from behind the hand, and 
shining through the spaces between the fingers. 

"I now hold a plate at a distance of one metre from 



42 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

her right hand, which is held up in front of her. The 
red light is turned slightly low. The somnambule sees 
a shadowy hand detach itself from hers, which is at the 
some time, also, attached to a very long, thin arm, and 
which approaches the plate. The hand is very large, 
she says, and is a right hand. It places itself over the 
plate, which I thereupon remove and develop. A large 
hand is distinctly visible upon it. Finally, I hold a 
plate two and a half metres away from the medium's 
hand. The somnambule shivers and feels cold in her 
lower limbs, despite the fact that my laboratory is very 
warm. She again holds out her right hand, and a left 
hand, attached to a long, thin arm, is seen by her to 
detach itself and place itself over the plate held in my 
hand. Upon being developed, the impression of a very 
large left hand was found upon the plate — so large that 
only a portion of the hand could be seen ! The whole of 
the medium's hand can easily be placed upon the plate. 
These are very similar to the enormous hands frequently 
seen in the Palladino seances, and said to be those of 
'John King.' 

"From the above facts I think we are justified in 
arriving at the following tentative conclusions: 

"1. That the hand of the double can be larger than 
that of the medium. 

"2. That a left hand can be projected from a right 
arm, drawing its force from the entire body of the sub- 
ject, this being accompanied by a chilly feeling in the 
extremities and by congestion of the head. 

"3. That the arm of the double appears to shrink in 
size according to its distance from the medium's body. 



IS PSYCHICAL EESEARCH A SCIENCE? 43 

"4. That it is easier for the fluidic hand to imprint 
itself upon the photographic plate (negative) in white 
than in black. 

"5. That in the case of the large and shining thumb 
it is surrounded by a clear halo of light. 

"6. The etheric body of the medium, the 'double,' 
behaves as though it were an independent spirit." 

In a second series of experiments very small hands 
were produced by request. These hands terminated 
abruptly at the wrist, but it was found by a series of 
independent experiments that any hand would appear to 
do so if the illumination came from a certain direction. 
In one case the photographic plate was placed on the 
sofa, three feet from the entranced somnambule. Dr. 
Ochorowicz took his seat by her side. A fluidic hand 
was seen to approach the plate, then retreat into the 
medium's body, avoiding the red light. Upon the plate 
being developed, the imprints of two small hands were 
seen, somewhat resembling the hands of the medium, 
though smaller. They were not typical children 's hands. 
The medium had, in fact, made two distinct efforts to 
impress the plate and have the fluidic hand place itself 
upon it. These semi-materializations are very interest- 
ing, since they form the connecting link between true 
materialization, which is solid and substantial, and so- 
called thought photography. 

After this Dr. Ochorowicz wished to try another ex- 
periment. A pencil and a sheet of paper were placed 
on the floor under the bureau by Dr. Ochorowicz. The 
medium sat in her chair entranced. Soon the sound of 



44 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

writing was heard; then the fall of the pencil. Upon 
the sheet of paper being removed a word was found 
scratched across it — 

"STANISL— " 

The psychic then desired to obtain writing in full 
view of Dr. Ochorowicz, so he placed another piece of 
paper upon the floor, and upon it the pencil. The me- 
dium then exerted herself; the pencil stood on end, and 
attempted to write. In this, however, it failed, and fell 
to the floor. This was repeated several times, when 
the medium had to give up further attempts, owing to 
her extreme fatigue. 

The question now arises: Can these fluidic hands, 
which are thus exteriorized, move of their own volition, 
or must they remain stationary? To this question Dr. 
Ochorowicz addressed himself in a later series of expe- 
riments. 

In the first experiment, the somnambule saw a finger 
upon a plate, which was self-luminous, and seemed to be 
writing. A large "J" was seen to be traced upon it. 
In the second trial, neither the medium nor Dr. Ochoro- 
wicz saw anything, but the letters "J. 0." were seen to 
be imprinted upon it when developed. 

This proved that the intelligence guiding the finger at 
least possessed memory and intelligence. The finger was 
to some extent self-luminous. From these experiments 
Dr. Ochorowicz concluded that : 

The actinic action of the emitted rays is feeble, com- 
paratively speaking; and that the visible light of the 
fluidic hands is less actinic than the invisible light. 

The relation of these rays to ordinary light is thus an 
interesting question. It is well known that all mediums 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 45 

shun light, and there are sound physiological and psy- 
chological reasons for this. Daylight has been found to 
be more destructive to the success of phenomena than 
any form of artificial light ; moonlight is far better than 
sunlight. It has lately been shown that light exerts a 
powerful physical pressure, and is a disruptive agency, 
destroying protoplasm and many of the lower forms of 
life. We only have to see the effect of sunlight upon 
a photographic plate to appreciate its power. The ab- 
surdity of assuming that light plays no part in such 
manifestations — where very delicate, subtle, and little 
understood forces are in operation — is thus manifest. 

Still, the fluidic hands emit a light of their own ; and 
the question is, Can this emitted light penetrate solid 
substances — "matter," as we understand it? As the 
result of a number of experiments, Dr. Ochorowicz as- 
certained that, in the majority of cases, these rays, like 
ultra-violet light, did not penetrate solid substances, as 
do the X-rays ; yet their actinic action was found to 
be far stronger! Here is a field for long-continued 
observation and experiment. In thought photography, 
on the other hand, it has been ascertained that the rays 
can pass easily through solid matter, like the X-rays. 

The next question of interest which presented itself 
for solution was this: To what extent can the fluidic 
hands change their form, size, and contour at will? 
Experiments were first tried in the reduction of the size 
of the hands, upon request. 

Three plates were prepared and laid in a series upon 
the table at some distance from the medium. Through 
the entranced somnambule the "double" was then in- 
formed of the experiment, and asked to place its hand 



46 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

upon the three plates in succession, willing on each 
occasion to make the fluidic hand smaller. This was 
done. An impression of the same hand was obtained 
oh each plate, but it can be seen that, on each occasion, 
the hand is smaller in size. This was all accomplished 
within a few seconds. 

Of these experiments Dr. Ochorowicz says: 

"We are therefore justified in arriving at the follow- 
ing conclusions: 

"1. At first, the double's hand is larger than that of 
the medium. 

"2. It tends to decrease in length and general size. 

"3. The palm of the hand, especially, tends to de- 
crease. 

"4. Only the little finger remains without appreciable 
change. 

"5. The change is that of several millimetres, but not 
enormous. 

"6. The fingers of the double tended to close nearer 
together, as well as become smaller — just as an ordinary 
hand would probably do." 

The light which supplied the necessary illumination 
for these photographs seemed to have been emitted from 
a sort of "egg," near the wrist of the hand, which was 
intensely luminous. This was not expected, and came 
as a surprise. Two suggestions as to its nature at once 
present themselves: (1) that it is a self -created me- 
diumistic light; and (2) that it is a mass of matter from 
which the hand derives its material sustenance. 

In a further series of experiments, during which Dr. 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 47 

Ochorowicz was repeatedly touched by a cold hand, im- 
pressions of large left hands were left upon the plates 
— the medium's left hand being, meanwhile, a long way 
removed from the plate. The fingers were very large, 
the thumb enormous and abnormally shaped at the end. 
Summing up the conclusions which, he thought, could 
be drawn from his researches, Dr. Ochorowicz said : 

"1. Fluidic hands are detached more or less rarely — 
according to the condition of the subject's "forces." 
When these are strong, hands may even be produced 
unknown to the medium. 

"2. The direction and character of these hands are 
determined by the sub-conscious mind of the medium; 
but also partially by the conscious mind. 

"3. The properties of the fluidic hands are not con- 
stant; they change frequently. 

"4. These changes represent transformations of en- 
ergy — certain forms of energy being transformed into 
other forms. When the conditions are good, the forms 
of available energy are multiplied; when weak, they are 
lessened. They alternate, but do not blend. The me- 
chanical effects are produced chiefly by the invisible 
hands, while the visible hands are inactive. 

"5. I have never seen more than two hands formed 
by one medium at one time, and more usually only one. 
When there are two hands, however, they may be quite 
dissimilar, one from the other. 

"6. There are several degrees of materiality, which 
succeed each other rapidly. The hands are so fugitive 
that it is almost impossible to seize them. When the 
imperfectly formed hands are grasped, however, they are 
cold, slippery, and unpleasant to the touch. The better 



48 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

materialized hands, on the contrary, are warm and life- 
like. 

"7. The well-materialized hands can be photographed ; 
even the poorly-developed hands can give radiographs. 

"8. The ultra-violet light necessary to produce these 
photographs can be produced by the hand of the medium 
or by the double itself. 

"9. Radiographs are difficult to obtain; a material- 
ization generally loses its luminosity. 

"10. The hands are sometimes like, and sometimes 
unlike, those of the medium. 

"11. The fluidic hands can be moulded plastically, 
and altered as to their dimensions." 

To resume the experiments: Dr. Ochorowicz desired 
to see whether the fluidic hand of the double could pass 
through a very small hole or space. He accordingly 
proposed placing a rolled-up film in a bottle, leaving 
only the small hole at the top, and see whether the 
hand could impress itself under these circumstances. 
Upon this being proposed to the medium, she exclaimed : 
"Make it more difficult than that; you will make the 
double lazy ! Cork up the bottle ! ' ' 

Dr. Ochorowicz accordingly cut a film, rolled it into a 
small roll, placed it in the bottle, and held the latter 
between his two hands, the right-hand palm acting as 
a cork, the left supporting the bottle ; the medium placed 
her hands on either side of the bottle, on the outside. 
She soon complained that her hands were paining her, 
seeming to swell and get larger. She was soon after 
seized with cramps, and the experiment was at this point 
discontinued. 

Dr. Ochorowicz tried to draw the film from the bottle, 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 49 

but failed ; he was finally obliged to break the bottle to 
extract it. The film was then developed, and upon it 
was the imprint of a hand — larger even than his own, 
to say nothing of the medium 's — clearly formed. Fraud 
was absolutely out of the question. There seems only 
the alternative choice of invoking the fourth dimension, 
or assuming that the fluidic hand could curve itself 
round and round the film after having entered the bottle 
in some manner ! The facts seem incredible ; but I give 
them as recorded. 

The question now arises: is the fluidic hand two- 
dimensioned? It could hardly have any thickness, to 
accomplish the last experiment. Dr. Ochorowicz deter- 
mined to try a novel experiment, to test this theory. 

Two photographic plates were placed face to face, 
separated by small pieces of cardboard at the corners. 
The "double" was requested to insert its hand between 
the plates when the medium was entranced. Upon the 
plates being developed, the imprint of a hand (the same 
hand) was found on both plates; i.e. a photograph of 
the top, and of the under side of a hand. This was re- 
peated again, under more stringent conditions. The 
hand again appeared. 

It was then decided to repeat the experiment with 
the rolled film in the bottle. The experiment was again 
made; the film was developed when the medium re- 
clined on the couch on the opposite side of the room, 
and a very large hand was again found to have im- 
pressed itself upon the film. It had evidently succeeded 
in curling itself round the rolled film in the closed bot- 
tle! 

The question is: First, Do the facts occur? And if 



50 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

they do, what is the cause of them ? What is the nature 
of these fluidic hands? To whom do they belong? Of 
what are they constituted? Are they the hands of a 
spirit, or mere exteriorizations from the body of the 
medium — materializations, only partially independent ? 

Without attempting to answer these questions in this 
place, I will conclude by pointing out two facts, which 
seem to me of considerable importance. The first is 
that many nervous and mentally abnormal patients may 
be mediums were the pains taken to ascertain that fact. 
I know of one famous alienist who confided to me his 
belief that a very large percentage of mediumistic cases 
could be found in hospitals for hysterical patients or in 
wards for the mentally unbalanced. The trouble is that 
experiments tending to ascertain the truth of such a 
theory are never tried. Had not Dr. Ochorowicz been 
interested in things psychic, Mile. Tomczyk would sim- 
ply have been cured by him in the general routine 
manner and dismissed. The world would thus have 
been deprived of one of the most remarkable mediums 
on record! 

In the second place, these fluidic hands are almost 
identical in many ways with those presented by Eusapia 
Palladino at her best. The materialized hands, of vary- 
ing degrees of density and formation, attached to long, 
shadowy arms, are exactly like the hands so often ma- 
terialized at her seances — hands which are at times 
small, and at other times enormous. They no more 
resembled the hands of the medium than chalk re- 
sembles cheese. 

16. This brings me to a final reflection, which I should 
like to mention before leaving this branch of our dis- 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 51 

cussion. It concerns the question of darkness and its 
effect upon genuine mediumistic phenomena. Whether 
this effect be primarily physical, physiological, or psy- 
chological, the fact remains that it exists; and the re- 
searches of Dr. Ochorowicz have tended to confirm this 
very strongly. His work has shown us (or rather con- 
firmed us more strongly in the belief) that the question 
of light is a highly important one, and that the greater 
the degree of darkness, ceteris paribus, the better and 
the more startling the phenomena. 

Now, there has always existed a sort of a priori as- 
sumption that this should be so. Light, as we know, 
does bring about chemical reactions, and even exerts a 
definite physical force or pressure. Even so gross and 
so powerful a form of physical energy as wireless te- 
legraphy is greatly interfered with by reason of the 
sun's rays (ultra-violet rays), and, of course, photo- 
graphic plates are at once rendered useless by an in- 
stant's exposure to the sun. Again, it is known that 
sunlight has a more or less destructive influence upon all 
forms of animal and vegetable protoplasm, and it is very- 
soon fatal to many of the lower forms of life. This 
being so, it has always appeared to me perfectly reason- 
able to suppose that the energy of the light-rays should 
interfere most seriously with the delicate and subtle 
forces and forms of energy which are liberated in the 
seance room. The old objection: "Why must these 
things always be done in the dark?" has appeared to 
me very short-sighted and inconsistent with all the facts 
above mentioned. 

But, further! It is highly probable that life of any 
kind can only originate in the dark. Certainly, con- 



52 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

ception invariably takes place in complete darkness, and 
the whole period of embryonic development is passed in 
that condition. Again, inter-stellar space is, of course, 
absolutely black and devoid of any form of light save the 
faint twinklings of the far-off stars. "Without the sur- 
face of some globe to reflect the sun's rays, no light of 
any kind would be possible; so that if life were con- 
veyed across space, from star to star, upon infinitesimal 
specks of dust, under the influence of light pressure, as 
postulated by Arrhenius (Worlds in the Making, pp. 
212-30), this life must exist, and in a sense originate, 
in the blackness of inter-stellar space. 1 And, finally, if 
life on our globe originated, as many think, in the 
ocean's depths, 2 this must have been in the densest dark- 
ness, since light penetrates but a few fathoms below the 
surface of the ocean. Below that all is blackness, com- 
plete and eternal. No light penetrates to that depth — 
nor has it for millions of years ! Yet it is in this region 
that life is thought to have originated! As G. W. 
Warder expressed it {The Universe a Vast Electric 
Organism*, pp. 60-1) : 

"During this period of primeval 'darkness upon the 
face of the waters' the resistless electric waves of the 
sun were beating upon the cloud-enwrapped surface of 
the planet. It was the formative period of elementary 
life, and the descendants and successors of that mighty 

i It should be said, however, that — apart from its innate dif- 
ficulties — this theory has recently received its death-blow by the 
discovery of the fact that space is filled with ultra-violet rays, 
which would soon prove fatal to all forms of life. 

2 See, especially, Duncan, Some Chemical Problems of Today, 
pp. 63-S3 and 97-104. 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 53 

host of living beings have to this day to lay the founda- 
tions of their being in similar conditions of darkness. 
Creative energy in its first stages of living form operates 
in dense darkness, and the first life upon the planet be- 
gan and perfected itself in the age when midnight gloom 
enveloped the globe." 

This fact — that life originated in darkness, and that 
the power of life can only be exercised in darkness — is, 
it seems to me, a most significant one when viewed in 
the light of our studies, and seems to point to the con- 
clusion that the "darkness" said to be essential at 
spiritistic circles is indeed necessary; and that, when 
delicate and subtle forms of life and energy are being 
manifested, they are likely to become disrupted by the 
sudden introjection of a coarse and powerful form of en- 
ergy, such as light, so that this "condition," said to be 
necessary by all mediums, is probably in reality essen- 
tial; and their claim, far from being absurd, is well 
founded, and in accordance with well-established scien- 
tific facts. 

17. So far as to the physical phenomena. We must 
now turn to the mental manifestations, and discuss one 
or two points in connection with them before conclud- 
ing. 

Hitherto we have considered the process of communi- 
cation (granting such to exist) solely from the physical 
and physiological sides, and not from the psychological. 
There is a great deal to be said in this latter connection, 
however, though I shall endeavour to be as brief as pos- 
sible. 

Take, for instance, the question of symbolism. 



54 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

Our dreams, as we know, are largely symbolic, the 
work of Freud and others having proved this beyond 
all doubt. It is highly probable that the ravings of 
delirium are also of this nature, though no one, so far as 
I know, has yet devoted any serious attention to their 
study. Certainly it is true in mediumistic phenomena ; 
for, in trance conditions, a larger number of messages, 
tests, and visions seen are of this nature and character — 
the symbolism often being so elaborate that the original 
thought is not perceived. As Mr. Coates remarked: 
"When a 'psychometer' places a geological specimen to 
his forehead, and describes an 'antediluvian monster,' 
roaring and walking about, no one but a very shallow 
individual would imagine for a moment that the psycho- 
meter was actually seeing the original, ' ' but rather that 
he obtained a faint and dream-like impression of the 
world at that epoch, and his subconscious impression was 
symbolized in the creature seen. A better example is, 
perhaps, furnished by the following : a gentleman of my 
acquaintance visited a certain trance-medium, and, 
among other things, she described a large key. This 
meant nothing to him at first ; but later, and after some 
apparent effort, the medium succeeded in catching (and 
conveying) the idea that the key was symbolic of success 
— unlocking the door of happiness, etc. — whereupon all 
she had said fell naturally into place. 

Why this symbolism? The probable answer to this 
question is that the "message" cannot be given directly, 
and that this symbolic method of presentation must be 
resorted to in order to get the message through at all. 
There is good evidence to show that a pictorial method 
is resorted to, very largely, by the soi-disant spirits — 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 55 

mediums seeing what they describe, very often, when the 
more direct auditory method is not resorted to. The 
"spirit" presents somehow to the mind of the medium 
a picture, which is described and often interpreted by 
the medium. Often this interpretation is quite erro- 
neous — resembling a defective analysis of a dream. Be- 
cause of this the message is not recognized. Yet the 
source of the message may have been perfectly "verid- 
ical." 

Let me illustrate this a little more fully. Suppose 
you desired to tell a Chinaman, who spoke not a word 
of English, to fetch a certain object from the next 
room. It would be useless for you to say "watch," 
because he would not know what the word meant. 
Probably you would tap your waistcoat pocket, pretend 
to take out a watch, wind it, look at the hands, etc., in 
your endeavour to convey to him your meaning. If 
this was not recognized, for any reason, you would have 
the utmost difficulty in conveying your meaning to him 
— and equal difficulty in telling him to fetch the watch 
from the next room. 

Now, suppose these antics — or somewhat similar ones 
— were resorted to by a "spirit" in his attempt to con- 
vey the word watch — perhaps to remind the sitter of a 
particular watch he used to wear. The medium might 
well proceed as follows: "He taps his stomach, and 
looks at a spot over his left side. . . . He seems to wish 
to convey the impression that he suffered much from his 
bowels — perhaps a cancer on the left side. Yes, he seems 
to be taking something away from his body; evidently 
they removed some growth, and he wishes to convey 
the idea that something was taken from him. . . . Now 



56 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

he is examining his hands; he is looking intently. He 
is doing something with his fingers. ... I can't see 
what it is ... a little movement. Was he connected 
with machinery in life? Now he is pointing to the 
door ..." etc. 

Such an interpretation of the facts, it will be observed, 
while describing all his actions, is wholly misleading in 
interpretation; the symbolism has been entirely per- 
verted and misconstrued. And inasmuch as the subject 
probably never died of cancer, had no bowel trouble, 
underwent no operation, and was never connected with 
machinery, it is highly probable that the "message" 
would be put down wholly to the medium's subliminal, 
or even to guessing or conscious fraud. Yet, it will be 
observed, the message was, in its inception, wholly "ve- 
ridical" — the fault lying in the erroneous symbolic in- 
terpretation of the medium. 

There is evidence to show that other forms of symbol- 
ism are adopted also — applying to the auditory as well 
as to the visual presentation of the messages. Names 
afford some of the best evidence for this; e.g. in the 
sitting of Mrs. Verrall with Mrs. Thompson, November 
2, 1899 (Proceedings, xvii. pp. 240-41), "Nelly," the 
control, gave the names "Merrifield, Merriman, Merry- 
thought, Merrifield," and later went on: "I am mud- 
dled. I will tell you how names come to us. It's like 
a picture; I see school-children enjoying themselves; 
you can't say Merrimans, because that's not a name, 
nor merry people. ..." (Mrs. Verrall 's maiden name 
was Merrifield.) If I remember correctly, there was 
similar symbolism with regard to the name Greenfield 
at another sitting. 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 57 

18. Here, then, we see the full play of symbolism 
and its possible extension to cover proper names. But 
there is another and a very simple reason why names 
should be hard to recall and give clearly by "spirits." 
Names are proverbially hard to remember, even in this 
life — and we know that some persons naturally remem- 
ber names far better than others. (This may account, 
to a certain extent, for the differences in the ability of 
communicators to give proper names.) But, with all 
of us, names are hard to recall. We all resort to 
" what 's-his-names, " and "thing-o'-my-jigs," on occa- 
sion, in our efforts to discover within us the name in 
question. And there are good physiological reasons for 
this. "We learn names only after many other parts of 
speech — which means that the brain-cells corresponding 
thereto are laid down or brought into conscious activity 
last; they are therefore more ephemeral and less funda- 
mental than others — hence the first to "go." This ac- 
counts for the increasing difficulty in the aged for re- 
membering names — theirs is a physiological rather than 
a psychological defect. By analogy, therefore, there is 
every reason to believe that proper names are hard to 
recall — every reason for thinking that they should be — 
by ' ' spirits ' ' after the shock and wrench of death. The 
necessary psychical mechanism would be so shaken and 
disturbed that it would be impossible to recall names 
and events, which seem quite straightforward and simple 
to the sitter. The possibly pictorial method of presen- 
tation of proper names would greatly add to the diffi- 
culty, as we have seen, and would be liable to lead to 
misrepresentation and error. 

♦ 19. Dr. Hyslop, in his second report on Mrs. Piper, 



58 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

(Proceedings, Amer. S.P.R., pp. 1-812), calls attention 
to certain analogies which may be drawn from everyday 
psychology, rendering the process of communication far 
more intelligible, and the difficulties within the process 
far clearer to our perception and appreciation. For 
example, he calls attention to certain analogies with 
aphasia, which are most instructive. He says, in part: 

"The two traditional types of aphasia are motor and 
sensory. Sensory aphasia is the inability to interpret 
the meaning of a sensation . . . motor aphasia is the 
inability to speak a word or language, though the ideas 
and meaning of sensations may be as clear as in normal 
life. . . . This latter difficulty is apparent in several 
types of phenomena purporting to be associated with 
communications from spirits. I have found them illus- 
trated in four different cases of mediumship, and they 
may be represented in three types. They are: (a) The 
difficulties with proper names; (b) The difficulties with 
unfamiliar words; and (c) The inability to immediately 
answer a pertinent question. . . . 

"The analogies with aphasia, of which we are speak- 
ing, may comprise various conditions affecting both me- 
dium and communicator. Thus the abnormal physical 
and mental conditions involved in the trance may affect 
the integrity of the normal motor action. Then the 
new situation in which death places a communicator, 
in relation to any nervous system, may establish condi- 
tions very much like aphasia. Then there may be diffi- 
culties in the communicator's representing his thoughts 
in the form necessary to transmit them to and through 
a foreign organism." 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 59 

Dr. Hyslop then offers the following diagram as a 
possible solution of certain difficulties involved: 




ABC represents the normal consciousness ; A B D the 
subliminal consciousness. They intersect at E, which 
point represents the "equilibrium of the controls." 
"The area A E B shows the condition in which all sorts 
of confusion may occur, incidental to the infusion of 
controls, and this confusion will vary with the relation 
with the supraliminal and subliminal action of the 
mind." As one advances, the other recedes. As one 
gains a greater control over the organism, the other 
loses it, and vice versa. 

Extending this conception to cover the cases of spirit 
"possession," in which this varying and fluctuating 




control is also manifested, we might represent this by 
the above diagram, in which normal consciousness 



60 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

is left out of account, for the sake of clearness, and 
the trance condition (subliminal) only represented. 
The spirit control of the organism takes its place in the 
diagram. 

Here ABC represents the trance state — the sub- 
liminal consciousness. CDF represents the sphere 
of the spirit's control. It does not begin at all until 
the point F be reached. The space A E F represents 
the area in which all kinds of confusion is possible, and 
it is within this area that most of the mediumistic 
messages come. E is the "point of balance." A F H 
represents the amount of subliminal action accessible 
to the control, on the one hand, and related to the 
discarnate, on the other, in its rapport. A F represents 
the amount of the discarnate personality which is acces- 
sible to communication, so we have two fields which are 
wholly inaccessible to each other, and are respectively 
represented by B C H F and D G I A, the former a 
portion of the subliminal personality of the living and 
the latter a portion of the discarnate personality which 
cannot reveal itself. 

This intermediate area, in which the control is liable 
to vary, and be thrown on to one side or the other, also 
has an analogy in the hypnoidal state of Boris Sidis — 
this being an intermediate state (so it is thought) which 
is convertible either into ordinary sleep, on the one hand, 
or into hypnotic sleep on the other. It all depends 
upon how this state is handled and controlled. It may 
be the same here; the medium may sink into internal 
reverie, or introspective trance ; or she may be converted 
into a genuine "medium" by some influence exerted 
upon her from without. 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE ? 61 

20. On. this theory, the deeper the trance the greater 
the control by the "spirit," and this corresponds very 
well with what has been said before. There are always 
a number of obstacles to clear communication, and the 
degree to which these are overcome would represent the 
degree of clearness of the communications. The process 
of transferring a mental picture to the medium may be 
attended with all kinds of difficulties of which we know 
nothing. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that 
there is a sort of etheric body, or double, and that this 
is in any way involved in the process, we might have 
the following "difficulties" to encounter: The diffi- 
culty in picturing the event clearly in the communica- 
tor's mind; difficulty in transferring it to the light; 
difficulty in getting this transferred to the medium's 
physical body ; the difficulty of manipulating the latter. 
We know that we often have great difficutly in manipu- 
lating our own bodies properly; and, in paralysis and 
kindred affections, we are unable to do so at all. Yet we 
are thoroughly familiar with our own bodies, and know 
how they work. How much more difficult would it be if 
we were suddenly transplanted in another person's 
body, and had to manipulate that? We should have to 
' ' learn the ropes, ' ' so to say ; and all the little automatic 
tricks, and habits, and slips of speech, and what not, 
would be liable to slip out without our consent and be- 
fore we knew it. We should "inherit," in fact, its 
whole psychological and physiological "setting." This 
being the case, we may readily see how difficult it would 
be for a discarnate spirit to manipulate another organ- 
ism; and how likely it would be to allow certain tricks 
and habits of the medium herself to slip through, with- 



62 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

out being able to control them. As one communicator 
said, through Mrs. Chenoweth: "I do not like those 
'don'ts'; they are hers, not mine." Here is a clear 
recognition of the difficulty involved in controlling the 
organism, and this is greatly accentuated when we re- 
member that all such communications must be given 
when the soi-disant communicator is in a constrained 
mental attitude — "gripping the light," "hanging on to 
the medium's body," while giving the communications. 
There is a double strain involved; and, as Dr. Hyslop 
said: "With what facility could I superintend the 
work of helping a drowning person and talk philosophy 
at the same time? How well could I hold a plough in 
stony ground and discuss protection and free-trade?" 
It is small wonder that the messages should be frag- 
mentary and incomplete, were any such difficulties as 
these experienced ! 

The three chief difficulties involved in mediumistic 
messages may be summed-up under three headings: 
(1) intra-mediumistic conditions; (2) intra-cosmic con- 
ditions; and (3) the mental conditions of the communi- 
cators. 

Under the first head may be placed all those difficul- 
ties which are liable to interfere between the communi- 
cator and the amanuensis. If the communicator is nat- 
urally a good visualizer this may help his visual com- 
munications, but impede the others ; an audile might be 
better in some instances. Again, the impulse may come 
in some motor form, in which case neither of these types 
would be that best suited to control the organism of 
the medium. Whether the communicator is a good 
visualizer or not may affect the communications to a 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 63 

great extent. Whether or not he had a normally good 
memory would also have a great influence. In fact, the 
whole construction of the mind might have great in- 
fluence upon the results. This is a subject which de- 
serves to be studied very carefully one day, when the 
mere fact of communication is established. 

As is well known, both Drs. Hodgson and Hyslop 
wrote strongly in defence of the theory that the com- 
municator, at the time of communicating, was in an 
abnormal mental condition, somewhat resembling trance 
or delirium or secondary personality. They were, at 
least, not in full control of their thoughts ; and this was 
said to be established by the statements of the com- 
municators themselves; and by a study of the messages 
communicated, wherein it was found that they became 
dreamy and vague; that they showed the same rapid 
change of imagery and subject which is manifested in 
dreams; an automatic tendency to capricious and con- 
fused association, a general indifference to personality, 
etc., as manifested in delirium. In dreams and sleep 
we have practically no control over the body at all, any 
more than if we were dead; and Dr. Hyslop contended 
that probably "somnambulism and hypnosis, dreaming, 
sleep, trance conditions, and death are all simply differ- 
ent degrees of the same state." Dr. Hyslop during his 
later years modified his views upon this question, and 
came to the conclusion that other conditions play a 
greater share in the results than the state of the com- 
municator's mind. But there can be no doubt that this 
has its results. 

Then, too, the medium's subliminal has a great and 
very decided influence upon the content of the messages. 



64 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

This was very small before Dr. Hodgson's death, but in- 
creased very much after that time. In a letter to me, 
dated January 27, 1908, Mrs. Ledyard, an old Piper 
sitter, said: 

"Dear Mr. Carrington, — . . . All sorts of false 
statements don't necessarily tell against the spiritistic 
hypothesis. If you get other evidences of personality, 
the false statements only confirm R. H. 's belief that 
"they" are in a sort of dreamy, half -trance state and 
very suggestible. My own opinion of the Piper trance 
is that, since R. H.'s death, when Mrs. P. has been less 
carefully guarded in many ways, and allowed to have so 
much voice in what she would and would not do, that 
there is much more effect of Mrs. Piper herself on the 
trance — and more leaks through from Mrs. Piper — 
though I have, so far, seen no special evidence that it 
leaks the other way, and that what is told her by sitters 
during the trance gets into the normal consciousness. 
But it does affect her normal life, just as an hypnotic 
suggestion does, on which the subject acts quite uncon- 
scious of its source. ..." 

But Rector's 1 business seems to be more far-reaching 
and more complicated than this. I quote from Dr. 
Hyslop's second Piper report (p. 197) the following 
interesting passage: 

"I may notice a remark Dr. Hodgson once made to 
me regarding the office of Rector in the phenomena of 
Mrs. Piper. It was not only as control that he exercised 

i "Sector" is the name of Mrs. Piper's chief control and aman- 
uensis, during her trance sittings. 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 65 

an influence over the results, but also both as inter- 
mediary between the communicator and the sitter, and 
as an inhibitor of the influence of the sitter's mind and 
the subconsciousness of Mrs. Piper upon this same re- 
sult. . . . His view was that Rector inhibited the 
thought-transference from the sitter to Mrs. Piper's 
subliminal, on the messages, so far as that was pos- 
sible. ..." 

Prom this it will, at all events, be seen that the re- 
lationship, and the whole system of inhibitions and in- 
fluences at work in the Piper case is very complicated. 
It must be remembered that, on any theory, the "mes- 
sages" must come through the medium's subliminal, 
which acts as a sort of matrix in which the whole 
mould of the supernormal is cast ; and, this being the 
case, it is only natural to suppose that the results would 
be most complicated and inextricably mixed in their 
relationships and influences. If spirit communications 
influence the subconscious, we have a right to suppose 
that the subliminal influences the communications in 
turn. And this is apparently proved by the facts. 

21. Now a few words as to the psychological processes 
of communicating, and the interplay of minds one with 
another, which figure in this process. Writing of this, 
Dr. Hyslop says: 

"Psychology distinguishes between what it calls vis- 
uals, audiles, and motiles. A visual is one in which 
visual experiences receive such emphasis, and which 
prove to be of such predominant interest to the subject 
that his habit of thinking about objects is expressed 



66 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

mentally or mnemonically in visual terms — that is, in 
the memory pictures of vision. . . . An audile is one in 
whom the sense of hearing is predominant. [In motiles 
the impulse is towards motor action.] 

"Suppose the psychic is a visual and the communi- 
cator an audile, might not that difference make a marked 
difficulty in the adjustment necessary for communicating 
clearly? . . . A visual might see apparitions more easily, 
and have more difficulty in automatic writing; and an 
audile might easily hear voices and write with more diffi- 
culty, etc. ... A proper name is purely an auditory 
concept. It has no visual equivalent whatever, except 
the letters which form it. If, then, the process of com- 
munication at any time involves a dominant dependence 
on visual functions of the mind, the sudden attempt 
to interpose an auditory datum might meet with the 
difficulty of prompt adjustment to auditory conditions 
for its transmission, and it might even be that the 
psychic could not, from habit in visual methods, adjust 
herself to all the needs of a proper name, except by 
converting it readily into visual terms, as the spelling 
of the name would express. . . . 

"In the lighter trance it is clear that visual phe- 
nomena play a most important part in the communica- 
tions. "With Mrs. Piper the phenomena seem to be more 
auditory. Mrs. Piper never sees apparitions or phan- 
tasms in her normal state; none have been reported of 
her as systematic experiences, as I have observed them 
in Mrs. Chenoweth. . . . 

"What we gain in clearness of consciousness in the 
communications when the message comes through the 
active subliminal of the medium, we lose in the accuracy 



IS PSYCHICAL BESEARCH A SCIENCE? 67 

and specific value of the message, while what we gain 
in the specific definiteness of the messages through Mrs. 
Piper, where the subliminal, if intermediary at all, is 
passive and automatic, we lose in the dream-like and 
disturbed mental state of the communicator." 

22. Another difficulty must be referred to in this 
place; and that is the probable loss of control over the 
stream of thought by spirits, such as we exercise in this 
life. Here, the checks and inhibitions are easily accom- 
plished, unless disease in some manner prevents them; 
but there are strong indications that a "spirit" — at least 
when communicating — cannot control his stream of 
thinking to the same extent ; and that, if it is constantly 
interrupted — by questions, etc., as it usually is — it tends 
to break up and become automatic, echolalic, or useless. 
That even experienced and careful psychic researchers 
will interfere with the flow of consciousness in this 
manner I know to be a fact; I myself, though I had 
been especially warned against doing so, did the same 
thing in my Piper sittings! Some of these difficulties 
I endeavoured to make clear in a letter, which I wrote 
to the English Journal S.P.R., and which appeared in 
March, 1908. In it I said: 

"For the sake of argument, let us assume that the 
intelligences that communicate through the organism 
of Mrs. Piper — and perhaps of some other mediums — 
are spirits of the departed, and that they temporarily 
'possess' the organism of the medium (at least in part) 
during the process of communicating. That is the gen- 
erally-held theory, I believe, and the simplest one to 



68 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

account for the facts. If this be true, it is to be sup- 
posed that the normal consciousness of the medium is 
in some manner removed, superseded, or withdrawn, and 
that only some "vegetable consciousness" remains, as 
it were, sufficient to keep the organism going until the 
return of the normal consciousness and normal control 
by the medium. Meanwhile, the controlling intelligence 
is, by supposition, influencing the nervous mechanism of 
the medium's body — directly or indirectly through some 
etheric medium — and influencing it to write out letters 
and words by the usual slow and laborious process. 
That they do find it slow and laborious is evidenced by 
the fact that all possible abbreviations are adopted — 
'U.D.' being used for 'Understand'; 'M' is frequently 
written 'N,' and so on. Even in our normal life we 
know that thoughts frequently flow faster than we can 
put them on to paper, and this would almost certainly 
be the case with spiritual intelligences who have no 
material brain to hinder their flow of thought. It is 
probable that the brain is as much an inhibitory organ 
as anything else; and when this inhibition is removed, 
it is natural to suppose that the flow of thought would 
be far less controllable and far more automatic than it 
is with us. It would be impossible for spirits to check 
and go on with their stream of thought at will, as we 
do on this hypothesis; they would be far more auto- 
matic and less under the control of the will. If this 
were true, it would account for much of the confusion 
present in the communications. Suppose a spirit is try- 
ing to communicate some fact or incident in its past 
life. It is endeavouring to force this thought through, 
in the face of great difficulties, and while trying to 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 69 

retain its grasp of the organism. Now, let us suppose 
that this stream of thought is suddenly interrupted by 
the sitter asking an abrupt question — referring to an- 
other incident altogether, and perhaps related to an- 
other time in the communicator's life. Is it not nat- 
ural to suppose that, labouring under these difficulties, 
and lacking the inhibitory action of the brain, the com- 
municator's mind should wander, and that he should 
either think aloud to himself as it were (all this com- 
ing through as confused writing, be it understood), 
or that the spirit should lose its grasp of the organism 
altogether and drift away? The mind cannot retain 
two vivid pictures at the same time; either one or the 
other must grow fogged and dim; and this would cer- 
tainly be so in the case of any communicator, where 
we may suppose a certain amount of mental energy — 
corresponding to a mental picture perhaps — is necessi- 
tated in the very process of holding the control of the 
organism. If communications take place at all in real- 
ity, we may well suppose that the difficulties of com- 
municating would be so great that all clear, systematic 
thinking would be impossible. People seem to imagine 
that the process of communication is as simple as pos- 
sible, instead of the most delicate and complicated 
imaginable — the very difficulty being evinced by the 
rarity of the intelligible communications coming through. 
If any one were to try the simple subjective test of 
closing the eyes and attempting to conceive his spirit 
controlling some other person's organism, he would very 
easily perceive the tremendous difficulties in the way of 
controlling an organism other than his own ! 

''However, my object in writing this letter is not to 



70 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

point out difficulties of this character, which are prob- 
ably well understood by the majority of the readers 
of the Journal. It is to draw attention to another fact, 
and an analogy. Let us take a man in good health, 
whose brain and mental functions are normal. Let this 
man be all but killed in a railroad accident. In the jar 
and shock of the collision this man was thrown (let us 
say) against an iron post, and his head badly cut and 
bruised. He was knocked insensible, and it was several 
hours before he returned to the first dim consciousness 
of his surroundings. Gradually he would revive. Ob- 
jects would present themselves to his eyesight vaguely, 
indistinctly; he would "see men as trees walking." 
Sounds would be heard, but indistinctly; there would 
be a vague jumble of noises, and no definite and articu- 
late sounds would be recognized at first, and until con- 
sciousness was more fully restored. Tactile sensations, 
smell and touch, would probably come last, and be least 
powerful of all; they would not be even distinguishable 
until consciousness was almost completely normal. All 
intellectual interests would be abolished, only the most 
loving and tender thoughts would be entertained or 
tolerable, and these would be swallowed up, very largely, 
in the great, central fact that the body and head were 
in great pain ; that the memory was impaired, and that 
anything like normal thinking and a normal grasp of 
the organism was impossible. Thoughts would be scat- 
tered, incoherent, and only the strongest stimuli would 
focus the attention on any definite object for longer than 
a few moments at a time, and perhaps even these would 
fail. But if oxygen gas were administered to such a 
person, in moderate doses, he would recover and rally 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 71 

far more quickly and effectually than if no such stimu- 
lant were employed. He would rally more quickly, and 
be enabled to think more clearly and consistently — at 
least pro tern. In shocks to the living consciousness 
this would almost certainly be the case. 

"Now, when we come to die, the departure of the soul 
from the body must be a great strain and stress upon the 
surviving consciousness, and must shock it tremendously 
— just as the accident shocked it in the case given above. 
Certainly this would be so in the case of all sudden 
deaths, and in those cases which ' die hard ' ; and it is nat- 
ural to suppose that it would be true also, more or less, 
in every case of death, however natural — since the sep- 
aration of consciousness from its brain must be the 
greatest shock that any given consciousness could re- 
ceive in the course of its natural existence. But after 
a time the spirit is supposed to outlive and 'get over' 
this initial shock, and to regain its normal functions 
and faculties. In its normal life, it is then supposed 
to be once more free and unhampered by any of the 
bodily conditions that rendered its manifestations on 
earth defective. But when this consciousness comes 
once more to communicate, it seems to again take on the 
conditions of earth life, i. e. those conditions which were 
present when the person died, and this would account 
for the fact, often observed, that mediums 'take on' the 
conditions of certain spirits who are communicating, i. e. 
they suffer pro tern, from heart or bowel trouble, pains 
in the head, etc. Further, this seems to extend to the 
mental functions and conditions also. Idiocy and in- 
sanity, e. g., are supposed to gradually wear off in the 
next life, and a gradual return to normal conditions 



72 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

ensue. This is, at least, the statement made through 
several mediums, and it is only natural to suppose that 
such should be the case. The spirit gradually returns 
to a normal mental condition ; but when any attempt is 
made to return to the ' earth plane,' and especially to 
communicate, these conditions return with greater or 
lesser force — varying with and depending upon the 
length of time such a person had been dead, and other 
considerations. On any theory, the consciousness must 
undergo some sort of temporary disintegration, while 
communicating, and must be scattered over a wide field 
of recollection, while at the same time attempting to 
'hold on' to the organism. It must also be remembered 
that the flow of thought is far more automatic than with 
us. All this being so, we can readily understand that 
any attempt at communication would be attended with 
the greatest difficulties, and such a consciousness, if it 
were constantly interrupted by questions, etc., would 
tend to go to pieces — to lose its grasp of the organism, 
and to drift away — only confusion and error coming 
through. This consciousness might be strengthened and 
rendered clearer, perhaps, by the presentation of some 
object belonging to the person when alive — as, no mat- 
ter how explained, this seems to clear the communica- 
tions. Any means that can be adopted to render clearer 
the mind of the communicator, on the one hand, or im- 
prove the condition of the nervous mechanism of the 
medium on the other, should therefore be of great util- 
ity and should at least be tried. This being so, I now 
come to the heart of the matter, and offer a suggestion 
which, if followed out, might improve the physical body 
of the medium, and hence render the conditions better 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 73 

from this side — as the presentation of objects might be 
supposed to render the conditions better from the other 
side. 

"I have pointed out before that, in certain cases, when 
it is desirable to restore the consciousness and to render 
its renewal more certain and clear (after an accident, 
e. g., that has knocked a person senseless) a mixture of 
oxygen gas is sometimes administered to the patient in 
order to produce these results. This being so, I ask: 
why may it not be a good idea to administer a diluted 
mixture of this gas to the medium when she is in a 
trance state — and when a communicator is attempting 
to convey his thought to the sitter by means of auto- 
matic writing? Might not such an experiment be tried, 
since no harm could come to the medium if the oxygen 
were diluted and only sufficiently strong to effect the de- 
sired results? And might not its administration tend 
to improve the tone of the nervous system pro tern., 
and render clearer the consciousness that is trying to 
use it and manifest through it — just as one's own con- 
sciousness might be rendered clearer by the same de- 
vice? Of course such a process might have the effect 
(especially at first) of breaking the trance altogether, 
and of reviving the medium. But if the medium under- 
stood the experiment beforehand, and the process were 
also explained to the controls, it is reasonable to sup- 
pose that — after some trials at any rate — the trance 
would not be broken, and that better, clearer results 
would follow. At all events, when some of our physi- 
cians in America are experimenting upon the effects of 
various electrical rays upon mediums in a trance, might 
not this far simpler and better-understood method be 



74 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

tried with more or less impunity? I at least suggest 
that it be so tried." 

23. It must not be thought that this "possession" 
theory of the Piper and similar cases is the only one 
which has been held in the past. On the contrary, as 
we know, there have been several others — Mrs. Sidg- 
wick's telepathic theory — from the discarnate; Mr. An- 
drew Lang's theory of telepathy a trots; Mr. Podmore's 
theory of simple telepathy; the theory held by Andrew 
Jackson Davis and other clairvoyants, that there exists 
a sort of mirror-like sphere, upon which all thoughts 
and acts are recorded, and which the medium is some- 
how enabled to "read" during the trance state; the 
theory that discarnate spirits somehow project their 
thoughts upon a wax-like surface of astral substance, 
and that the medium is enabled to reinterpret them in 
some mysterious manner; the Theosophical theory; the 
theory of the occultists and mystics; the Catholic theory 
■ — that these manifestations are all the result of evil, 
lying spirits — these are but a few of the hypotheses 
which have been advanced in the past by way of ex- 
planation of these phenomena. I may say that this 
latter theory has some respectable evidence in its sup- 
port, by the way, a few very remarkable cases having 
come under my own observation, which I hope to detail 
at some future time; and Dr. J. Godfrey Raupert has 
cited some impressive cases in his Dangers of Spiritual- 
ism, Modern Spiritism, and The Supreme Problem. This 
is assuredly a side of psychic investigation which de- 
mands close study and prolonged investigation; and, 
in spite of the masterly analysis of some of these cases 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 75 

by Professor Flournoy in his Spiritism and Psychology 
(chap, iii.), I cannot but feel that there is yet much to 
be learned as to the nature of the intelligence manifested 
in these cases. And this was, as we know, the opinion 
also of Professor William James, for he wrote (Pro- 
ceedings of S.P.R., vol. xxiii. p. 118) : "The refusal 
of modern 'enlightenment' to treat 'possession' as a 
hypothesis to be spoken of as even possible, in spite of 
the massive human tradition based on concrete expe- 
rience in its favour, has always seemed to me a curious 
example of the power of fashion in things scientific. 
That the demon theory (not necessarily a devil theory) 
will have its innings again is to my mind absolutely 
certain. . . . One must be blind and ignorant indeed 
to suspect no such possibility. ..." It must by no 
means be taken for granted, therefore, that the intelli- 
gences operating through Mrs. Piper and other mediums 
are all that they claim to be, even if their externality 
to the medium were proved. . . . We must be extremely 
cautious in accepting any messages coming through 
mediums until the most certain and convincing proofs 
of identity be forthcoming — and then we should be 
cautious ! 

The only plausible theory which in any way accounts 
for the Piper and similar phenomena — short of the 
spiritistic — is one based upon the existence of inde- 
pendently fluctuating strata of the medium's mind, ac- 
quiring their knowledge by means of telepathy, clairvoy- 
ance, and other supernormal means. This view of the 
case is held and defended with extreme ingenuity and 
persuasiveness by Professor Flournoy in his Spiritism 
and Psychology — a book which I myself think should be 



76 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

read by every one interested in psychics or inclined to 
"dabble in spiritualism." The complete isolation and 
individuality of the various personalities involved could 
only be explained, it seems to me, by postulating a 
series of subliminal strata, between which there would 
be no memory connection — very much like Mr. Gurney's 
strata obtained by him and described in his paper on 
"The Stages of Hypnotic Memory" (Proceedings, vol. 
iv. pp. 515-31). In this way alone could we account 
for the facts ; but even so, are they explained ? 

When psychical research becomes a recognized science 
there will be ample room for "specialization," and for 
many years of study in each branch of the work. Con- 
sider, for instance, the many ramifications and possibili- 
ties which would be thrown open to the researcher! 
A man might become a "specialist" in haunted houses, 
in the investigation of such cases, and in their "treat- 
ment ' ' and ' ' cure. ' ' He would then have to investigate 
the nature and character of the phenomena which occur 
in them, and of the intelligences which manifest them- 
selves. The nature of the figures seen in such houses 
would form a special branch of research, and the degree 
of their objectivity or subjectivity in any particular 
case. Numerous experiments might be tried, such as 
crystal-gazing, automatic writing, seances, induced 
dreams, etc. Experiments should be tried in photo- 
graphing the apparitions, and in getting them to register 
their presence upon delicate and sensitive instruments 
of all sorts. Phonographic records of the "footsteps" 
of the ghost (if such occur) should be made, and a rec- 
ord taken of all the sounds and noises which occur in the 
house. Clairvoyants should be sent on "trips" to ascer- 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 77 

tain the character of the haunting, if possible, in order 
to ' ' check off ' ' their descriptions against the experiences 
of those living in the house. Communication should be 
established with the "haunting spirits," if possible, by 
means of raps, table-tipping, etc. The character of the 
phenomena should be studied, and the physical sep- 
arated from the mental. The nature of the intelligence 
"haunting" the house should be investigated psycho- 
logically. The dreams of those who sleep in the house 
should be recorded and analysed. Animals should be 
taken to live in the house, to see whether or not they 
perceive anything unusual. The effect of suggestion, 
exorcism, etc., should be tried and noted. Experiments 
in hypnotism, "magnetism," etc., should be conducted 
in the house. Red lights and lights of other colours 
should be tried, to see whether they affect the phenomena 
in any manner. These are but a few of the many tests 
and experiments that might be made, and which would 
doubtless suggest themselves to the mind of the inves- 
tigator as soon as the legitimacy of the subject were 
once granted. 

Again, in the case of telepathy. Once the facts were 
proved, the fascinating study of the laws and causes 
would begin. Under what mental, physical, and, pos- 
sibly, spiritual conditions does telepathy operate ? What 
is the best mental condition of the agent? of the per- 
cipient? What would be the effect of hypnotic trance? 
What of dreams? (These are not original ideas, but 
they have never been followed out as they should be, 
and might be, if the subject were pursued scientifically 
as other questions in science are.) Again, might not 
telepathy be facilitated if we chose individuals of the 



78 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

same general temperament? If we chose two individ- 
uals to whom the same chord on the piano appealed (say 
the common chord of G minor or C sharp), and this 
chord were struck repeatedly, might not telepathic 
transmission be facilitated under such conditions? If 
both subjects were hypnotized, and the agent were told 
to "will" certain figures, etc., might not the percipient 
receive them more easily ? If both agent and percipient 
were placed in a strong magnetic or high-tension electric 
field, might not this in some way influence communica- 
tion? Again, these are but a very few of the experi- 
ments which might be tried, once telepathy became an 
accepted fact. 

In the case of clairvoyance the field is even greater, 
but here more original work has been done, owing largely 
to the fact that many of the experiments have been con- 
ducted upon subjects in the hypnotic trance, and hence 
more fully resembled "laboratory experiments." Still, 
much remains to be done, particularly in the realm of 
the explanation of clairvoyance, and in the investigation 
of the neural and general physiological concomitants of 
the condition. 

In the field of "thought-" and " spirit-photography, " 
the possibilities of research and experimentation are 
obvious and almost unlimited. The recent researches 
of Dr. Ochorowicz in "radiographs," and of Command- 
ant Darget in thought-photography and the so-called 
Y-rays, are of extreme importance, if true. Here is a 
field which any one may invade; and, with the aid of a 
camera and specially sensitive plates, might accomplish 
really valuable and striking results. Very rarely have 
attempts been made to photograph apparitions (probably 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE ? 79 

because they were too fleeting and unexpected), and the 
forms at seances have been photographed on only a few 
occasions. The human "aura" — granting it exists — 
should certainly be capable of being photographed, un- 
der certain conditions, as well as the radiation said to 
issue from magnets, crystals, etc., as explained by Rei- 
chenbach. 

The human "aura" itself should be made the subject 
of special study. Here is a perfectly tangible thing, so 
to speak, which physicists can work on to their hearts' 
content, without becoming "contaminated" by the gen- 
eral run of psychic manifestations ! Is the aura a form 
of physical radiation? Does it affect the atmosphere? 
Can it be photographed? Is it connected with the phe- 
nomena of exteriorization of sensitivity or motivity? 
Will it affect the galvanometer needle, or other delicate 
electrical or physical instruments ? Is it connected with 
the "astral" or "etheric body"? What is its condi- 
tion when the subject is asleep? Can it be altered at 
will? Is it affected by passing a high-tension current 
through the body of the subject? (We know that these 
high-tension currents will themselves create an electric 
aura around the body.) What becomes of the aura 
after death; and what changes, if any, does it undergo 
at the moment of death? Such are a few of the ques- 
tions which the psychic student might ask himself, and 
which certainly call for solution. 

Once more: is " psychometry " a fact? If objects can 
retain certain "influences" within them, what is their 
nature, and how are they retained? How does the sen- 
sitive perceive these impressions? Is there not a con- 
nection between these phenomena and haunted houses? 



80 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

or between the " charging-up " of a table or planchette 
board before it proceeds to answer questions and behave 
in the manner it is often reported to do ? 

What is the nature of the "cold breeze" which is so 
often experienced, not only at seances, but during very- 
many psychic phenomena, both of the experimental and 
spontaneous types, in all parts of the world? Is it a 
physical breeze, or is it purely "psychical"? Could it 
be collected and analysed, as was suggested in the case 
of the cold breeze issuing from the scar on Eusapia 
Palladino's forehead? What is its source? And what 
is its object? On this subject alone much suggestive 
and valuable research might be undertaken. 

Take the simple phenomena of raps. What produces 
them? What is the bond between the hand of the me- 
dium which makes a gesture in the direction of the table, 
and the table itself? What is the nature of the phys- 
ical impact upon the table? Are these raps due to 
exteriorized vital force? If so, does this energy exude 
from the nerve termini, or is it connected only with the 
etheric body or double? Can these raps be controlled 
at will, or directed and controlled when the subject is 
under hypnosis? Can this energy be directed at will? 
Could it not impress delicate physical instruments? 
Might not a connection be thus established between 
these phenomena and the impressions of hands and faces, 
etc., occasionally seen in the presence of Eusapia and 
other mediums? 

Then the phenomena of materialization ! Here is a 
wide field for study indeed ! How can such an organism 
be built up? Out of what materials is it constructed? 
What degree of density can be attained? What is the 



IS PSYCHICAL RESEARCH A SCIENCE? 81 

power which manipulates this matter? and what is the 
structure of the matter itself ? How can will plastically 
mould matter in space? On what framework, so to 
speak, is the body constructed? What is the nature of 
the vital drain upon the medium and the sitters ? What 
is the nature of the intelligence animating the material- 
ized figure? What is the connection between so-called 
"thought-forms" and materialized phantoms? 

These are but some of the questions which would 
suggest themselves, and call for solution when ' ' psychics ' ' 
is recognized as a legitimate science, as it surely will be 
one day. These are problems mostly on the physical 
plane; but the psychological problems are just as many 
and just as alluring! I have referred to some of these 
elsewhere; and would content myself with again saying, 
that only when the facts of psychical research are recog- 
nized will their real, scientific study begin. 



CHAPTER II 

INVESTIGATING PSYCHICAL PHENOMENA 
WITH SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTS 

It is generally conceded that Aristotle possessed the 
greatest single intellect the world has ever known; yet 
any schoolboy today knows more of the structure of our 
universe than did Aristotle ! The reason for this is that 
Science has more fully penetrated the secrets of Nature, 
and we now know approximately the constitution of mat- 
ter and a good deal concerning life and mind. How has 
this progress been possible? Only in one way. Im- 
provement in the mechanical instrumenis by means of 
which we study Nature. We might "speculate" as to 
the constitution of matter for a thousand years, but we 
should never have arrived at our present positive knowl- 
edge had it not been for the delicate and sensitive in- 
struments which are today in the hands of the physicist 
and the chemist, and employed by him in his laboratory. 
Doubtless much the same law will be found to apply 
in the realm of ' ' psychics. ' ' Until we can apply definite 
"laboratory methods," and study psychical phenomena 
by means of physical instruments far more delicate than 
our senses, it is probable that the present state of things 
will continue to exist ; but it is my firm belief that, were 
a laboratory fitted up with physical and electrical appa- 
ratus, suitable for this work, and if we could by their 
aid study a promising case of "psychic" or "medium- 

82 



INVESTIGATING PHENOMENA 83 

istic" phenomena, we should (within ten years or so) 
arrive at some definite conclusions! We should then 
know something about the laws and conditions under 
which telepathy, clairvoyance, telekinesis (the movement 
of objects without contact), et cetera, operate, and not 
until this is done, I believe, will such positive conclusions 
be reached. 

Of course the reader may object, just here, that I am 
assuming such phenomena to be true — while the tendency 
of many present-day scientists is to regard them as un- 
real, hallucinatory, and the result of fraud. I cannot 
spare the time in the present place to argue the point. 
While I admit freely that a very large percentage of such 
phenomena are so produced, and while I freely admit 
that probably 98 per cent of so-called "mediums" are 
fraudulent; I am equally emphatic in declaring that a 
residuum of genuine phenomena exists — that supernor- 
mal manifestations do occur, and that every one who 
investigates carefully enough and long enough will find 
them. This has been not only my own experience, but 
that of every person who has investigated this subject 
with an impartial mind for any length of time. As Sir 
Oliver Lodge said, in writing of this very question : 

"The result of my experience is to convince me that 
certain phenomena, usually considered abnormal, do be- 
long to the order of Nature, and as a corollary from this, 
that these phenomena ought to be investigated and re- 
corded by persons and societies interested in natural 
knowledge." 

Based on this conviction, Sir Oliver Lodge wrote, as 



84 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

far back as 1894, in a paper entitled "On Same Appli- 
ances Needed for a Psychical Laboratory": 

"If the investigations are to go on easily and well, 
special appliances must be contrived and arranged con- 
veniently for use, precisely as is done in any properly 
fitted laboratory. It has already doubtless been realized 
that one of the needs of the future is a psychical labora- 
tory, specially adapted for all kinds of experimental 
psychology and psycho-physics. ..." 

Sir Oliver Lodge suggested at the time, among other 
necessary appliances, a delicate registering balance, — so 
adjusted that it would record the medium's weight, un- 
known to her, at all times during the seance — the fluctu- 
ations in weight, if any, to be recorded on a revolving 
drum. Means ought also to be provided for studying 
the temperature, pulse, muscular exertion, breathing, 
etc., etc. The lighting of the room should be carefully 
attended to and capable of the slightest gradation. 
Means should be provided for obtaining moving pictures 
of the seance from without the room, unknown to the 
medium. Were the sittings held in complete darkness, 
these photographs could be obtained by means of ultra- 
violet light, with which the room might be flooded. In 
addition to these devices, we may add others — such as 
X-ray tubes, high-frequency currents and a delicate field 
of electric force, — while instruments for testing the 
ionization of the air (if it exists) in the immediate vicin- 
ity of the medium, during a seance, should also be em- 
ployed, — together with the more strictly psychical in- 
struments and devices which have been utilized of late 
years. 



INVESTIGATING PHENOMENA 



85 



Electrical apparatus has, in fact, been utilized on sev- 
eral occasions to test so-called "physical mediums" in 
the past. Italian investigators, particularly, have ex- 
celled in this. In a series of seances conducted in 
Naples, the following apparatus was employed. (Fig. 1.) 




FJ9J_ 



A telegraphic key (b) was connected by wires (a,a) 
to a battery (d) and to two screws, connecting them 
with an electro-magnet (e) to the opposite end of which 
was attached a needle. The point of the needle touched 
a revolving drum (f), with a smoked surface, driven by 
two interlacing, cogged wheels. The whole of this regis- 
tering apparatus was enclosed under a glass bell-jar (g). 
The telegraphic key itself (b) was covered by a card- 
board box (c). The "powers" manifesting were asked 
to press the telegraphic key without tearing the card- 
board box (that is, through it). When the key was de- 
pressed, this would be instantly communicated to the 
electro-magnet, and cause the needle to oscillate, — these 



86 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

oscillations being 1 marked upon the smoked surface of 
the revolving drum. A number of successful tests were 
conducted by means of this apparatus. 




A variation of this was then employed (Fig. 2). A 
cylinder filled with water (a) was connected by means of 
tubing (b) to a U-tube, or manometer (c), filled with 
mercury. Upon the further side of this tube floated a 
bent wire (e) inserted into a small cork. The point of 
this wire, again, was so adjusted as to come into contact 
with the smoked surface of a revolving drum (f), driven 
as before. The top of the cylinder (a) was covered with 
a rubber cap (d), and this whole apparatus was inserted 
under a wooden box (g) having a cloth top. 

Now, if the rubber covering (d) were pressed upon, 
this would force some of the water, in a, along the tube, 
b, and the added air-pressure would depress the column 
of mercury in the manometer, causing the floating needle 
to rise on the opposite side, and scratch upon the re- 
volving drum. Fig. 3 shows some of the tracings which 
were obtained in this way — the force acting through the 
cloth top, g. 



INVESTIGATING PHENOMENA 



87 




The instruments thus recorded a definite physical, in- 
telligent force. 

It may interest my readers to know that, at the time 
of his death, M. Curie, — who had been completely con- 
vinced of the reality of these phenomena, — was busy de- 
vising an instrument which would register and direct 
psychic power liberated from the body of a physical me- 
dium when in trance. 

Dr. Imoda, the assistant of Professor Mosso, has also 
conducted a number of experiments in the discharge of 
an electroscope, by means of "rays" issuing from the 
medium's body. It was found that, if the medium held 
her fingers at a distance of an inch or so from the knob 
of the electroscope, some form of energy, apparently 
radio-active in character, issued from her fingers, and 
gradually discharged the electroscope. This is the "ra- 
diation" or "emanation" issuing from the body, which 



88 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

has been studied extensively by students of the occult. 
Dr. Imoda concluded — as the result of his experiments 
— that "the radiations of radium, the cathode radiations 
of the Crookes' tube, and mediumistic radiations are fun- 
damentally the same." 

Some other very interesting facts have been observed 
by means of the electroscope. For example, Dr. W. J. 
Crawford (D.Sc.), in his experiments, noted that: — 

" . . . In seance rooms where tables are moved without 
physical contact, I found that after a sitting was well 
started, I was always unable to charge an electroscope, 
even though I tried to do so in the corner of the chamber 
farthest from the medium. In order to charge it I had 
to take it outside the room. I asked the 'operators' (in- 
telligences 'directing things,' apparently, in the seance- 
room) if there was any 'power' in the seance-room so far 
away from the medium, and they answered in raps that 
there was. By 'power' I understand them to mean par- 
ticles of matter taken from the medium. ..." 

Again, in his Reality of Psychic Phenomena, he says : 

"I took the electroscope to the table in the corner; 
then placed it in the circle near the medium. I asked 
the operators to touch the disc of the instrument very 
gently. They did this almost at once, the 'touching' 
consisting of a metallic scraping upon the brass disc, 
quite audible, similar in type to the imitation of the floor 
being rubbed with sand paper, a phenomenon I quite 
often observed. 

"Result: — On examination, the electroscope was found 
to be completely discharged! 



INVESTIGATING PHENOMENA 89 

"I took the electroscope to the table in the corner of 
the room and tried to recharge it, but found I was un- 
able to do so even after repeated trials. Accordingly I 
asked the 'operators' to put back into the body of the 
medium the matter they had taken out (for the produc- 
tion of the sledge-hammer blows) and to give a few raps 
when they had done so. In a minute or two some very 
light raps were given, and when I asked if the process 
was complete I received no raps in reply at all, which 
seemed to indicate to me that all the matter used for 
rapping had been returned to the medium. At any rate, 
I found that I could now charge the electroscope ; which 
done, I placed it on the floor as before within the circle, 
and asked that the disc should be touched lightly. After 
a little time, there was the metallic scraping as before, 
and on examination the electroscope was found to be 
completely discharged." 

It will be at once apparent to the reader that two prob- 
lems confront the investigator, when once he is called 
upon to solve such problems as the above: (1) the physi- 
cal miracle itself; and (2) the nature of the intelligence, 
lying behind and directing or controlling the manifesta- 
tions. This latter is purely a psychological question, 
which, immensely important as it is intrinsically, does 
not enter into the physical problem. It need only be 
said that this is the baffling question in psychical investi- 
gation, and the most puzzling. Whether it be an inde- 
pendent "spirit," as it claims to be; or the subconscious- 
ness of the medium ; or whether it is a sort of compound 
consciousness, made up of the collected minds of those 
forming the circle at the time ; or whether some other in- 



90 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

terpretation is open to us — this is all a moot question, 
which is referred to here, merely to draw attention to 
the fact of its existence. 

It will be at once apparent to the reader, also, that 
physical and electrical apparatus have played an impor- 
tant part in such investigations, in the past, and are cer- 
tainly destined to occupy a far more important place in 
the future. These curious phenomena — like all others 
in our world — depend upon invisible forces or energies 
for their production. Those interested in electricity 
should realize, more than all others, the power of the 
invisible; and the fact that the invisible is the real. 
Anything that we see consists merely in a bundle of 
"phenomena" — of effects. The real cause is always be- 
hind, and is always invisible. 

There is nothing inherently absurd or impossible, 
therefore, in these odd manifestations, — however bizarre 
and unusual they appear to us at first sight. An un- 
usual combination of circumstances might bring them 
about. Stones do not ordinarily fall out of the air; yet 
at times they do (meteors). Water does not usually rise 
above its own level, yet it can be made to do so. The 
curious freaks of lightning are well known. There is 
nothing inherently impossible, therefore, in supposing 
that a table can be "levitated" into the air, under un- 
usual conditions; it is simply the manifestation of an 
unknown energy — of which, doubtless, there are many. 
We can manipulate and control the electric current ; but 
we do not know yet precisely what it is. Similarly, we 
can study the effects of many of these curious biological 
forces, without understanding their true nature. Above 



INVESTIGATING PHENOMENA 91 

all, it behooves us to keep an open mind, and not to cry 
"impossible," just because we have never seen such 
facts, or because they appear to us innately improbable. 

Here, as elsewhere, we depend upon hidden and un- 
known energies. Could we but find an energy common 
to the two worlds — the spiritual world and the material 
world — we should have here a means of direct communi- 
cation, possibly by instrumental means. Delicate physi- 
cal and electrical apparatus may he the means, after all, 
by iwhich such communication will ultimately be estab- 
lished! At all events, when subtle causes and forces are 
in operation (as they doubtless are during a seance) it 
is only natural to suppose that instruments, far more 
delicate than our senses, should be the logical method of 
detecting them, and, as yet, such experiments have rarely 
been attempted. 

When we take into consideration, finally, the electrical 
theory of the nature of matter; when we remember the 
many striking analogies between electricity and the life- 
force ; when we remember that the science of electricity is 
yet in its infancy, it should hold out to us the hope that, 
here, we may find a solution of many of these obscure 
problems, and that further investigations in the field of 
electricity may serve to explain to us many of these un- 
known and mysterious secrets of our inner nature, and 
the still more mysterious secrets of the seance-room. 
No more interesting and profitable researches could be 
attempted than those which endeavour to establish a con- 
nection between known and unknown phenomena; be- 
tween physical and electrical manifestations, on the one 
hand, and these curious "psychical" phenomena, on the 



92 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

other. The crying need of the day is a "Psychical 
Laboratory," wherein such experiments as these could 
be conducted. It is my sincere hope that, some day, I 
may assist in the foundation of such a laboratory. 



CHAPTER III 

LIFE : AND ITS INTERPRETATION 

(In the Light of M. Bergson's Philosophy) 

The philosophy of life which M. Bergson advocates is 
more than a mere philosophy — more than a meta- 
physical doctrine; for, in so far as it endeavours to 
account for the "phenomena" of life, it entrenches upon 
biology ; and M. Bergson himself is the first to acknowl- 
edge this. His own books are filled with interesting 
scientific data, which he has interpreted most ingen- 
iously ; and no broad-minded biologist can afford to neg- 
lect his work in the future. Two points of his theory 
call for special mention, however, it seems to me, and 
are subject, not to criticism but to discussion. One of 
these is that M. Bergson has not gone far enough in 
his interpretation of the facts; in the other he is, I be- 
lieve, wrong in his interpretation — though his is the one 
commonly advanced and accepted. A few remarks on 
these two points may not, perhaps, be without interest. 
It is apparent to any student of these problems that 
the interpretation of life which M. Bergson has adopted 
is very different from that usually held. The facts, the 
phenomena of life, are the same on either theory, the 
difference lying in their explanation. All the facts of 
life are the same; they may be interpreted equally well 
on either theory. It is important to bear this in mind 
for reasons which will become apparent as we proceed. 

93 



94 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

Now, the difference between M. Bergson's theory of 
life and that commonly held is this : that, whereas one x 
regards life as created or resulting from the total func- 
tioning of the body, the other regards it as something 
separate and distinct — merely utilizing the body for the 
purposes of its manifestation. In the one case, life is, 
as it were, made; in the other, it exists apart from the 
body it animates, and is merely associated with it. To 
sum up in two words, one is the production theory of 
life; the other is the transmissive. One theory leads 
direct to materialism; the other allows all sorts of pos- 
sibilities, which are readily perceived by any student 
of these questions. 

Thus stated, the situation at once reminds us of the 
controversy which raged some years ago as to the rela- 
tion of brain and mind, as the result of the publication 
of James' lecture on Human Immortality. He then 
showed that it was quite possible to accept all the facts 
as to the relation of brain and consciousness, yet in- 
terpret them in a different manner; that there might 
be a transmissive function of the brain as well as a 
productive or secretive function ; and that the undoubted 
fact of the inter-relation of the two sets of phenomena 
might just as well be interpreted in one way as in the 
other. The mere facts proved no theory true. As 
James so well said: "The psychologists noticed a con- 
nection, and at once assumed that it was the only pos- 
sible kind of connection ' ' — which was not at all the case. 
Mere coincidence, in two sets of phenomena, does not 
prove that they are causally related; that one produces 
the other. They may be quite separate from one an- 

i The orthodox, scientific theory. 



LIFE: AND ITS INTERPRETATION 95 

other (psycho-physical parallelism), or both may be 
aspects of something else," etc. It is all a matter of 
interpretation, not of fact. But this is a view of the 
case which is seldom perceived, it seems to me, by psy- 
chologists generally. Seeing a coincidence, they at once 
postulate causal relation, and then proceed as if this 
had been thoroughly and scientifically established ! 

I have spoken of this analogy, drawn from psychology, 
because it bears upon the problem before us in the 
clearest possible manner. Just as consciousness is usu- 
ally conceived to be due to the functioning of the brain ; 
so life is conceived to be due to the functioning of the 
body; but just as mind can be shown to exist apart 
from brain, and merely manifest through it, in the same 
way, M. Bergson suggests, life may exist apart from 
matter, and merely animate it in its passage through it. 
It is all a question of interpretation. 1 

Is the interpretation correct? As Hamlet said: 
' ' That is the question ! " To use the words of the Right 
Hon. A. J. Balfour (Hibbert Journal, October 1911, 
p. 18) : 

"M. Bergson regards matter as the dam which keeps 
back the rush of life. Organize it a little (as in the 
protozoa) — i. e. slightly raise the sluice — and a little 
life will squeeze through. Organize it elaborately (as in 
man) — i. e. raise the sluice a good deal — and much life 
will squeeze through. Now this may be a very plausible 

1 See Mind Energy, chapters 1 and 2. This view has also been 
adopted by Mr. W. Whately Smith (see his Theory of the Mech- 
anism of Survival) where he says (p. 114) : "This latter (the 
transmissive theory) is the view held by M. Bergson, by Mr. 
Carrington and by myself." 



96 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

opinion if the flood of life be really there, beating against 
matter till it force an entry through the narrow slit of 
undifferentiated protoplasm. But is it there ? Science, 
modesty professing ignorance, can stumble along with- 
out it, and I question whether philosophy, with only 
scientific data to work upon, can establish its reality. ' ' 

It would seem to me that the only way to settle this 
question one way or the other is to bring forward cer- 
tain facts which can be accounted for more fully and ra- 
tionally on one theory than on the other. If facts could 
be produced which one theory could not account for at 
all, the alternative theory might be said to stand proved. 
Do such facts exist which tell in favour of M. Bergson's 
theory as against the other? I believe they do. Before 
coming to them, however, I must draw attention to 
certain weaknesses in the generally held theory of life, 
which are, it seems to me, also shared by M. Bergson's 
theory. Until these are disposed of, I do not believe 
that any definite forward step will be taken towards 
proof either in one direction or in the other. So long 
as certain fundamental tenets are held, it seems improb- 
able that any one theory of life will be proved more 
than any other theory. M. Bergson has gone part of 
the way, in his demonstration, but he has stopped there 
instead of carrying his train of argument to its logical 
conclusion. At least so it appears to me; for I think it 
obvious that the chain of argument which M. Bergson 
adopts can be carried much further than he has carried 
it, in his various writings. 

The view which M. Bergson adopts is somewhat as 
follows: Life is directive and creative; it utilizes the 



LIFE: AND ITS INTERPRETATION 97 

chemical and physical forces of the body for the pur- 
poses of its manifestation. It is the "spark" which sets 
off the explosive; it is the "hair-trigger" which liberates 
the enormous energy contained in the cartridge, etc. To 
apply the analogy: life utilizes and directs the energy 
obtained from food (by a species of chemical combus- 
tion) so that the bodily energy, as such, is, so to say, a 
"physical" energy, and subject to the law of conserva- 
tion; while the power that guides, controls, and directs 
it is conscious life — the power of choice, the guider, the 
controller. 

This view of the case is, I believe, unsound, and for 
two reasons. In the first place, it does not, I think, go 
far enough in its interpretation; and, in the second 
place, we are face to face with a paradox — the problem 
of no-energy affecting energy. Let ns take the second of 
these objections first. 

If a solid body, a fluid or a gas, be moving in a certain 
direction, a certain amount of energy must be exercised 
in order to divert its course — for otherwise it would 
continue in a straight line. Similarly, any energy will 
continue to exert itself in one direction, unless its course 
of activity be diverted into another channel; and this 
"divertion" constitutes a pressure, as it were, upon the 
energy ; and this ' ' pressure ' ' can only be brought about 
by a "physical" force or energy — and so be within the 
law of conservation. No matter how slight this pres- 
sure — this guidance — may be, it is nevertheless there; 
and in so far as it directs the flow of energy, it must 
itself be energy — for otherwise it could not direct or 
divert it. Even the analogy of the banks of a river 
fails us, because in that case every atom of the banks 



98 PROBLEMS OF- PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

is acting upon the body of the water by a material 
pressure; and hence the banks as a whole are. Either 
life must be energy, or it must be no-energy. If the 
first of these suppositions be true, things would be in- 
telligible; but if the second were true, they would not 
be, because no-energy cannot effect or guide or control 
energy without itself being energy; and this would 
either make life a "physical" energy, or remove its 
power of guidance altogether. I do not see how these 
alternatives are to be avoided. 

M. Bergson apparently tries to evade this issue by 
supposing that life only affects the energies of the body 
(derived from food) very slightly by a sort of "hair- 
trigger" action, which releases a vast amount of energy, 
quite disproportionate to the energy of direction ap- 
plied. But surely this is a mere begging of the ques- 
tion! One is reminded of Marryat's character, who 
asked to have her illegitimate baby excused "because it 
was such a little one!" No matter how slight the 
amount of energy may be, if it is capable of affecting 
energy at all, it is energy, and hence subject to the law 
of conservation. Life, as energy, must lie wholly out- 
side the law (in which case all talk of "control" and 
"guidance" must go by the board), or it must lie 
wholly within it (in which case life becomes a purely 
"physical" energy, like any other, and cannot well be 
thought to exercise this "guidance"). 1 

1 It might be contended that life is an intelligent force — both 
a physical energy and intelligence; but if that were the case we 
should simply have energy plus something, and the "plus some- 
thing" would constitute the whole mystery. We should be no 
better off than we were before. All the energies known to us 



LIFE: AND ITS INTERPRETATION 99 

We have thus seen that the second of our two alterna- 
tives (that life is no-energy) is untenable. Let us 
now return to the first — that life is energy — and see 
whither it leads us. 

If life be a form or mode of energy, it might affect, 
guide, and direct other modes of energy, or the matter 
of the body (and, through it, of the inorganic world) 
readily enough. It would affect them, but blindly. It 
could have no intelligent action. If life be an energy, 
it must be like all other energies in this respect ; it must 
fall within the law of conservation and be non-intelli- 
gent. Otherwise it would be something different from 
all other forms of energy; and so we should have en- 
ergy, plus intelligence, in the case of life; and only 
energy for all other forms. But in that case life could 
not simply be converted into or derived from any other 
mode of energy; because we should have "intelligence" 
left over, in our equation — which was created de novo 
whenever life was derived from other energies, and 
plunged into extinction and nothingness whenever life 
passed into any other mode of energy — in the course of 
our daily lives. But this is contrary both to experi- 
ence and to all legitimate scientific thinking! Life, 
therefore, cannot be an intelligent or a directive energy. 
And so this argument also goes by the board, and we 
have left to us only the old materialistic conception of a 
non-intelligent, blind, life-force, or energy, derived from 
food, by a process of chemical combustion, and essen- 
tially no more mysterious than any other energy. This, 

are certainly non-intelligent, and if you superimpose anything 
else on the energy you at once differentiate it from all other 
energies — which you are not entitled to do ( see below ) . 



100 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

therefore, is the conclusion to which we seem driven. 

But such a conclusion is not only contrary to M. 
Bergson 's philosophy, but to daily observation and sci- 
entific knowledge; for we know that life is directive, 
purposive, and progressive, and if evolution teaches us 
anything, it tells us that it must have been so always. 
We are thus driven into this dilemma: life must be an 
energy — but, as such, it cannot be purposive! Life is 
purposive, yet it must be an energy — for otherwise it 
could not affect the bodily energies and the material 
world! Here then is an apparent paradox — a flat con- 
tradiction — incapable of solution or further elucidation. 

M. Bergson (and before him Sir Oliver Lodge and 
others) has attempted to meet this difficulty by suppos- 
ing that the energy of the body is a "physical" energy, 
derived from food, and, as such, blind and subject to the 
law of conservation. This energy, they assert, is how- 
ever manipulated and directed by the power of life or 
consciousness, which makes "use" of it, directs, and 
guides it. But this theory is, it seems to me, refuted by 
the arguments just advanced, which show that life and 
consciousness cannot affect energy in this way unless 
they themselves be energy; and thus we are in a "vi- 
cious circle" again, with no hope of ever getting out. 

The whole difficulty has arisen, it seems to me, be- 
cause of the conception of the nature of life usually 
held. "Were this altered these problems would be found 
to have a ready solution. M. Bergson has gone half 
way toward finding this solution, but has stopped there ; 
he has clung to the most fallacious part of the theory, 
and for this reason has been unable to emerge altogether 
from the difficulties above mentioned. Only when we 



LIFE: AND ITS INTERPRETATION 101 

change our conception of the nature of the life-force 
will these problems become clearer — these questions find 
their true solution. 

Have I, then, any theory to offer as to the nature of 
this power of life which is essentially new to physiology 
and biology? I believe that I have — not new as to 
facts, but as to the interpretation of facts (the latter 
remain the same on either theory). 

In order to make the theory which follows plain in as 
few words as possible, it will be necessary to refer for a 
moment to the current conception of vital energy — of 
life — in the human body. It has been stated by Berg- 
son himself with admirable clearness (Hibbert Journal, 
October 1911, pp. 35-36 ; Creative Evolution, pp. 253- 
54, etc. ) , and is briefly this : 

Food, when broken down and oxidised in the body, 
gives forth or liberates energy — just as coal liberates 
energy when burned in the engine. In both cases en- 
ergy (contained in the food or the coal, as the case 
may be) is liberated, and this energy is utilized to drive 
our engine — the human body or the steam-engine (it 
makes no difference to the argument). The energy thus 
gained is, it is contended, again given off as heat and 
work — muscular and mental work in the case of the hu- 
man engine (the body) ; mechanical work of all sorts, 
and heat, in the case of the steam-engine. Thus one 
is essentially no more mysterious than the other — the 
body no more so than the steam-engine — vitality no more 
so than steam ! Both are " physical" energies, subject to 
the law of conservation, and as such transmutable one 
into the other. This is the generally accepted theory, 
which likens the human body to a steam-engine, and is 



102 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

the theory all but universally adopted by scientific men, 
held as proved and adopted without question by M. 
Bergson ! 

But such a view of the case is, I believe, essentially 
untrue. It is one interpretation of the observed facts, 
truly; but not the only interpretation. The facts re- 
main equally true on either theory; the difference lies 
in their explanation. It is the old error of confusing 
coincidence with causation — and not only that, but a 
particular kind of causation, and "treating it as the 
only imaginable kind." Just as the psychologists rea- 
soned upon the acknowledged facts of the relation of 
brain and consciousness; so do the physiologists, in our 
own day, reason upon this question of the causation of 
vital energy by food. In both cases there has been one- 
sided and partial reasoning. 

If, however, we reject the prevalent notion of the 
causation of vital energy by food, we must have an- 
other theory to offer in its place. It is, I know, pre- 
sumptuous thus to run counter to the whole of accepted 
teaching, in this respect, and my excuse must be that 
I believe my theory represents the truth, while that uni- 
versally held does not! Again, I must emphasize that 
I speak, not of facts, but of inferences drawn from facts. 
With this apology, I shall state my own view of the 
case as follows: 

Instead of comparing the human body with the 
steam-engine, it should be compared with and likened 
to the electric motor. Just as the motor is recharged, 
or receives its energy from some external source, just 
so, I believe, is the human nervous system recharged 
from without, during the hours of sleep. It is placed 



LIFE: AND ITS INTERPRETATION 103 

into a peculiar, receptive condition, in which this "re- 
charging" process takes place. Our energy is derived 
through sleep, and not from food. Food merely re- 
places broken-down tissue (and, if you will, the animal 
heat) but never supplies or creates its vital energy. 
This depends upon its nervous mechanism, and upon 
sleep, and not upon the muscular system and chemical 
combustion. What differentiates the steam-engine from 
the human organism is the fact that one needs sleep 
while the other does not (in other words, one is living 
and vital, and the other is not), yet, in spite of this 
obvious difference — which is so great that it really de- 
stroys all the analogy — physiologists have continued to 
disregard it, and to treat the human body as a mere 
machine — such as a steam-engine — which requires no 
sleep, and derives its energy solely by combustion ! To 
my mind, this is one of the most curious paradoxes of 
modern science. 

To place the theory in as clear a light as possible, 
then, it is this: Food supplies or replaces broken-down 
tissue (and heat) to the body; but not vitality, or the 
power of life, which comes only from rest and sleep. 
No matter how much food we may eat and perfectly 
oxidise, there comes a time, nevertheless, when we must 
go to bed, and not to the dining-room, to recuperate our 
strength and energies. During sleep, vital energy flows 
into us (our nervous systems), and all animals need 
sleep — this fact differentiating them, at once, from any 
form of mechanical engine. Life, vital energy, is not 
due, as is universally thought, to chemical combustion, 
but to vital replenishment. No energy is created 
within the body; it is merely transmitted. The body, 



104 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

in fact, acts as a means of transmission — as a sort of 
"organic burning glass" which transmits and focuses 
the sun's rays on one focal point. And just as any 
crack, or blur, or clouding, or other accident to the 
burning glass would interfere with its power and ca- 
pacity from transmitting the rays, so, any accident or 
disease or pathological state of the organism would in- 
terfere with or altogether prevent the passage or flow 
through it, of the life or vital energy. ' ' The more per- 
fect, the better these conditions, the greater the influx 
of vital force, and vice versa. We must see that all the 
electrodes and avenues and channels are bright and 
clear, so that there shall be as little hindrance as pos- 
sible to either the inflow of energy in the form of power, 
or to its outflow in the form of work done. ' ' My theory 
of the relation of body and bodily energy is, in fact, an 
extension of James ' ' ' transmission theory ' ' of conscious- 
ness to the whole of our life and vital energy. And I 
believe the one is as defensible as the other. 

But, I shall be asked, is there any evidence for such 
a theory? There is much evidence, there are many 
facts, which I have adduced in full elsewhere. 1 This is 
not the place to discuss the physiological intricacies in- 
volved, and I can only refer those interested to the work 
in question. At present, I shall assume its accuracy — 
or at least its validity — and proceed to show in few 
words why it is that this theory is not contrary to any 
known facts, but is capable of explaining them just as 
fully as the generally accepted theory, and other (dis- 
puted) facts far more readily. 

The facts upon which the current theory is founded 

i See my Vitality, Fasting and Nutrition, pp. 225-350. 



LIFE: AND ITS INTERPRETATION 105 

are well known, and, apparently, thoroughly established. 
Briefly, they are these: So much food, oxidised or 
burned outside the body, can be shown to yield so 
much heat and energy. The same foods, oxidised 
within the body, yield approximately the same amount 
of energy. Further, the energy which the body ex- 
pends (in conscious and unconscious muscular activity, 
thought, emotion, and as heat, etc.) is, it is contended, 
practically equivalent to the energy which is thus sup- 
plied. There is, therefore, an equivalence, a balance, 
between income and outgo of energy: so that the re- 
cently conducted experiments in calorimetry are held 
to prove beyond question the causation of vital energy 
by food. 

I shall not in this place stop to question the accuracy 
of the figures obtained — to point out that the results do 
not always tally; that far too little allowance has been 
made for mental and emotional states, etc. I shall as- 
sume that the figures are accurate and prove all that 
they are held to prove. The question then arises: Do 
the figures prove the causation of vital energy by food? 
Apparently they do, no doubt, and they are held to do 
so by the majority of experimental physiologists; but I 
do not believe that this is at all the case. Admitting 
the facts, admitting far greater accuracy than the fig- 
ures really show, we have to consider the question of 
their interpretation. And this brings us back to the 
remarks made at the beginning of this paper — that 
coincidence does not prove causation ; and that the same 
set of facts may often be interpreted in an entirely dif- 
ferent manner — one which would show that life is not 
directly dependent upon food combustion at all 7 as is 



106 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

generally supposed. The alternative method of inter- 
preting the facts would be as follows: 

Life is a power which acts upon organized matter, 
under certain conditions, in a variable and fluctuating 
manner. Whenever energy acts upon substance, sub- 
stance wastes. Whenever work of any kind is done by 
the body, therefore, the tissues are broken down, and to 
supply this waste, this destruction, food material is 
needed. The more waste, the greater the need for re- 
pair, and per contra the less waste, the less the need of 
repair. So far as the material equivalent (food) is con- 
cerned, therefore, it will be seen that this is only what 
we should expect on either theory; and tells no more 
in favour of one than the other. 

But what of the energy? The greater the expendi- 
ture of energy, the more work done, the more tissue de- 
stroyed. The more tissue destroyed, the more food 
needed, and the more ingested. But this does not prove 
that the extra amount of food has created the extra 
energy ! That would be putting the cart before the 
horse with a vengeance! And yet this is what is uni- 
versally done by physiologists in considering these ex- 
periments! Perhaps I cannot do better than to quote, 
just here, a portion of the excellent Introduction which 
Dr. A. Rabagliati, F.R.C.S., F.F.C.P., etc., wrote to my 
book, and which really states the case more clearly than 
I stated it myself. He says in part: 

' ' To take an analogy : It seems to me it would be as 
pertinent to argue that because the strings of a violin 
or harp waste in proportion to the quantity of music 
evolved through or by means of them, therefore the 



LIFE: AND ITS INTERPRETATION 107 

waste of the strings is the cause of the music, while 
in fact it is the hand of the player, and even the spirit 
behind the hand, which is the real and efficient cause 
of the music. So the form of the infinite and universal 
energy, which we may call erg-dynamic, is the cause of 
the waste of the body through which it works ; and this 
is at once made good by the increased trophic metabo- 
lism which occurs, to replace the waste — this increased 
trophic metabolism showing itself in increased 2 intake 
and coincidently or correspondingly with increased C0 2 
output. If the strings of a musical instrument were 
self-repairing, we might perhaps be induced to think 
that the material which fed the strings was the cause 
of the music, since in that case some measure of the 
waste would probably be discoverable in the debris 
emitted; and we might imagine that the debris was the 
measure of the music, while what it really was, was the 
measure of the waste of the strings, when they were 
made the instrument of the music. If a spade is used 
in digging, the spade wastes in proportion to every 
spadeful of earth it is made to lift. The more it digs, 
the more it wastes. If we could arrange that a stream 
of fine steel particles flowed into the spade, to replace 
the waste caused by each act of digging, we might per- 
haps come to think that these fine steel particles were 
the cause of the digging, especially as the quantity 
of them required would always be exactly proportioned 
to the amount of work done. Nevertheless, this would 
be a very inconsequent assumption. Yet this is the 
assumption invariably made by modern scientists." 

It will thus be seen that another interpretation might 



108 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

easily be placed upon the observed facts, and that, while 
.the latter are accepted without question, it is yet pos- 
sible to conceive the relationship as quite other than 
usually imagined; and consequently of life as an energy 
independent of the food supply, 1 and outside the law of 
conservation — a force absolutely distinct, separate, per 
se. M. Bergson has gone so far as to speak of life as a 
"power," as a "vital impetus" — utilizing matter for 
the purposes of its manifestation, etc. I have merely 
extended this conception in what appears to me a log- 
ical and necessary direction. It appears to me certain 
that life is a sentient power — different from any other 
mode of energy of which we have any knowledge, and 
as such no longer subject to the objections raised earlier 
in this paper (to other conceptions of life), which might 
also be advanced, it seems to me, against M. Bergson 's 
theory. "Were the theory of life here defended true, it 
would not only enable us to account for life in a satis- 
factory manner, but it would render clear many obscure 
and sporadic phenomena which the current theories are 
quite incapable of explaining (and hence often ignore !) ; 
and it would also practically assure us continuity of life 

i The question has been asked, What becomes of the potential 
energy contained in the food, if it is not converted into bodily 
energy? I reply, it is given off or imparted to the body as 
heat (not energy), but this heat is again given off by the body. 
The more imparted to the body, the more is again given off. 
We know that the body possesses a self-regulating apparatus 
which keeps the body, when alive, always at a constant tem- 
perature. (When dead, of course, the "corpse" cools to the 
temperature of the surrounding air.) The equivalence is again 
maintained, it will be observed, because the more heat we im- 
part to the body the more it in turn gives off. 



LIFE: AND ITS INTERPRETATION 109 

beyond the grave — after the dissolution of the body — 
because mind and consciousness are shown to be inde- 
pendent of physical energy, even in this life ! This, how- 
ever, is a subject which requires special and lengthy 
treatment, and I cannot touch upon it now. All that I 
can aim to do at present is to show that there may be a 
spiritual source even for our physical life and energy 
here. And, were this true, psychic phenomena might 
readily be accounted for — since there would no longer 
remain any valid objection to their occurrence. 



CHAPTER IV 
THE HUMAN WILL IS A PHYSICAL ENERGY 

AN INSTRUMENT WHICH PROVES IT 

PART I 

The Facts 

That the human will is a definite physical energy, 
which can be registered by means of a scale or balance, 
may appear so incredible that the bare statement of the 
case would seem to carry with it its own refutation! 
Yet I firmly believe that this is a fact ; that the energy 
of the will may be registered by means of an instrument 
I am about to describe; and that any one can prove 
this, — any one, i. e., who cares to take the time to repeat 
these experiments, and to try a sufficient number of sub- 
jects until the right ones be found — who are capable of 
affecting the balance in the manner described. 

Such a fact — if fact it be — is of the utmost importance 
to science and to philosophy; even more important and 
more far-reaching in its implications than may at first 
sight appear. Not only is the fact itself of extraor- 
dinary interest, but the very origin and structure of 
our universe is called into question — and shown to be 
capable of an interpretation very different from that 
usually offered by modern science. And, further, if it 
be true that the human will is a physical energy, we 
have here the discovery of a new force — a force just as 

110 



THE HUMAN WILL 111 

new to science as magnetism or electricity — and vastly 
more interesting, since it is intimately associated with 
all of us, and subject to our direction, guidance, and 
command — a force for us to wield and manipulate — for 
weal or woe ! 

It may be thought, by some, that this is no new dis- 
covery; that the human will is a physical energy is a 
fact of common observation; and that we all feel the 
liberation of this energy whenever an act of volition is 
performed. I may reply at once to such critics that 
(common sense as it may appear) this is not at all the 
attitude of modern psychology; and that, by savants 
the will is not considered an energy at all, but rather 
a choice of actions or an effort of attention. It is a 
state of consciousness merely, possessing intrinsically 
no more energy than any other state of the kind. This 
may, perhaps, be made clear by the following brief quo- 
tation from James' Psychology : 

"We can now see that attention with effort is all that 
any case of volition implies. The essential achievement 
of the will, in short, when it is most "voluntary" is to 
attend to a difficult object and hold it fast before the 
mind. The so doing is the fiat; and it is a mere physio- 
logical incident that when the object is thus attended 
to, immediate motor consequences should ensue. Effort 
of attention is thus the immediate phenomenon of will. ' ' 
(p. 450.) 

This, then, is the attitude of psychology. It con- 
tends that the will is by no means an energy, in the 
sense in which physicists use that term ; but rather that 
it is a mere state of mind, or of consciousness. As 



112 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

such it is, of course, helpless; a mere witness of the 
drama of life, incapable in itself of affecting or chang- 
ing the external world. So far as the physical world 
is concerned, it is a mere by-product, a useless ad- 
junct — the feeling of energy-expenditure being delusory. 
Such is the attitude of modern psychology, and a very 
hopeless and unattractive belief it is! 

As opposed to this view, I propose to show that the 
human will is a definite physical energy, which forms 
an essential part of our human personality — and forms, 
indeed, the very core of our being, so far as its expres- 
sion into the physical world is concerned. This view 
of the case, I may say, is not altogether new; several 
competent neurologists have, of late, defended this con- 
ception in no measured terms. Thus, Dr. "William 
Hanna Thomson, in his Brain and Personality, says : 

"An important conclusion is led up to by these facts, 
namely, that we can make our own brains, so far as spe- 
cial mental functions or aptitudes are concerned, if 
only we have wills strong enough to take the trouble. 
By practice, practice, practice, as in Miss Keller's case, 
the Will stimulus will not only organize brain centres 
to perform new functions, but will project new connec- 
tions, or, as they are technically called, association 
fibres, which will make nerve centres work together as 
they could not without being thus associated. ... It 
is not the power of the brain, it is the masterful personal 
Will which makes the brain human. It is the Will alone 
which can make material seats for mind, and, when 
made, they are the most personal things in a man's 
body. . . . Man can always do what he chooses, or, in 



THE HUMAN WILL 113 

other words, wills. Therefore this very different thing, 
his Will, makes man different from every other earthly 
living thing." 

Such a view of the ease certainly gives a far greater 
dignity and power to the will; but is it true? That 
is the question; it is a mere matter of interpretation, 
without any means of settling the facts one way or the 
other. It may be "pleasant" to believe this or many 
other things; but that does not make them true! 

It is obvious that arguments such as this might go 
on for ever. The nature of the human will would never 
be settled by such means. We desire a more definite 
and concise method — one capable of settling the ease 
one way or the other — and settling it, not by argument, 
but by fact. Arguments convince no one; facts every 
one! It is only by an appeal to fact, therefore, that 
this question can be settled one way or the other. The 
difficulty has been that, until now, no direct method 
has been devised capable of solving the problem. This 
has now been rendered possible for the first time, by 
means of the instrument described in this chapter. The 
experiments herein narrated settle, to my mind, the 
question of the nature of the human will; they prove 
it to be a definite physical energy — as much so as any 
other energy we know. The majority of these facts 
have been before the scientific world for some time; and 
why their philosophic interpretation and implications 
have not been seen is to me a great mystery. One can 
only account for it by assuming that most scientists 
are not at the same time philosophers; they do not see 
the full meaning of the facts they observe. Only in 



114 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

this manner can one account for the apathy with which 
the scientific world has, so far, accepted the facts in 
question — why it has utterly failed to see their tre- 
mendous philosophic and even religious value and sig- 
nificance. 

My attention was first drawn to the instrument in 
question by Professor Th. Flournoy, of Geneva, the 
author of From India to the Planet Mars, Spiritism and 
Psychology, and other works, well known to English 
readers. Immediately I learned of the experiments in 
question, I wrote to Professor Alrutz, and obtained from 
him one of his instruments, by means of which the ex- 
periments described below were performed. Writing 
of the early results obtained by him, Professor Alrutz 
says ("Report to the Sixth Congress of Psychology," 
etc.) : 

"In spite of the knowledge we have gained of the 
electrical and chemical phenomena of the central nerv- 
ous system, we must confess that we know little indeed 
of the inner nature of the psycho-physical processes. 
What is happening in the brain — especially in the psy- 
cho-motor centres — when we move an arm by means of 
an act of will? What are the forms of nervous energy 
which are employed? Are these entirely electrical and 
chemical forces, the neural impulses being mere electrical 
currents? Or are there other forms of energy which 
experimental physiology has not as yet brought to light ? 
Might there not be, perhaps, some form of energy more 
closely allied to the psychic acts, constituting a sort of 
bridge or transition between psychic phenomena, on the 



THE HUMAN WILL 115 

one hand, and electrical and chemical phenomena, on 
the other? 

"When we wish to study the electrical charge con- 
tained in any body, we obtain exactitude only when we 
succeed in transferring this charge to another body ; we 
may then study the nature of the charge under varying 
circumstances, and establish the influence of the two 
charges upon one another. It is only in this way that 
experimentation becomes truly fertile. Should we not 
apply the same laws to the phenomena of the nervous 
system, and institute a similar mode of experiment for 
the nervous energies? Under what conditions can we 
conceive this transference? 

"The most natural supposition seems to be that it 
would occur, if at all, in labile organizations; in those 
subjects which, according to Janet (Les Nevroses, p. 
339), possess an excessively unstable personality; and 
whose psychic life is characterized by great suggesti- 
bility, by instability, and a certain peculiar mobility. 
Such individuals are also characterized by the great 
facility with which the functions vary and react upon 
one another. Binswanger has said that the nervous 
system of these individuals is characterized by the varia- 
bility of the dynamic cortical functions; that is to say, 
by the fact that the nervous segments of their cerebral 
cortex present a melange of greater or lesser irritabil- 
ity. 

Professor Alrutz goes on to say that, guided by this 

i This explains why "every one" cannot move the board ; there 
must be this peculiar nervous and psychic instability in order to 
insure the results. 



116 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

idea, he constructed an instrument designed to test his 
theory — based in part, but not wholly, upon the earlier 
instruments employed by Hare, Crookes, etc., to test the 
same thing. As is well known, these experimenters 
spent much time in their investigations — both of them 
coming to the conclusion, after years of patient research, 
that physical apparatus could be definitely influenced 
and moved by the will of certain persons, when exer- 
cised in the direction of their movement, and without 
sufficient contact to account for the observed facts. 
Crookes' experiments, in particular, are very conclusive 
in this direction — his apparatus being very similar to 
that designed by Professor Alrutz. He employed a 
board, one end of which was attached to a spring bal- 
ance, while the other end of the board rested upon a 
solid table. The subject placed his hands upon the 
board, and a definite pressure was registered by the 
balance — far more than could be obtained in any normal 
manner. These experiments of Crookes are classical, 
and have never been "explained away." With the 
present instrument, there seems every likelihood of con- 
firming these earlier experiments. 

The apparatus employed is of the simplest possible 
construction. A solid board, some lO 1 /^ by 13% inches, 
and 1 inch thick, forms the base of the apparatus. In 
this, at a distance of some 6 inches, two holes are 
drilled, into which are inserted pegs, 3y 2 inches long, 
and sharpened at their top edges to a fine knife-edge. 
This constitutes the fulcrum — the upper board resting 
on these knife-edges, and being unevenly balanced on 
them. (See Frontispiece.) 

The upper board, resting on these edges, is some 19 



THE HUMAN WILL 117 

inches long by 13 inches broad at the lower end, and 
10 inches broad at the upper end. The narrowing takes 
place about 6 inches from the end of the board (broad 
end), in the form of a rapid inward curve. It is here 
that a groove is cut, and, 7% inches from the broad 
end of the board, two pointed grooves are also cut, which 
allow the board to rest nicely upon the knife-edges of 
the two pegs below it. In this position the board would 
naturally assume a downward slant, owing to the greater 
length of the board on one side of the fulcrum than on 
the other. (See Frontispiece.) "When the long end of 
the board is supported, by means of a piece of string, to 
a letter scale, however, the board is made to assume a 
horizontal attitude, parallel to the table top. In this 
position the board weighs just 5 ounces, and if the 
balance registers more than 5 ounces, it shows that a 
weight or pressure or force has been applied to the long 
end of the board. If force be applied on the short 
end of the board (where the hands rest), it would have 
the effect of merely depressing this end of the instru- 
ment, and causing a lessening of weight, as registered by 
the balance. This is noted invariably whenever pres- 
sure of the hands is made upon the board near the 
sitter. 

With this little instrument, Professor Alrutz tried 
a number of experiments, on several occasions, which 
he divided into groups or series. The history of his 
initial experiments is, as briefly as possible, as follows: 

1st Series. — No results. 

2nd Series. — The board, after a short interval, low- 
ered, showing a pressure of 40 grammes. This was at 
the first trial. It descended slowly, remaining at this 



118 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

point for about 5 seconds. It again descended several 
times, making at one time a depression of 120 grammes. 
On another occasion the board was depressed, and 
showed a pressure of 100 grammes, which lasted for 35 
seconds. On other occasions lesser depressions were 
noted, but for longer periods of time. On several oc- 
casions the balance registered a downward pressure for 
two minutes or more. This was in good light, and was 
carefully observed by two physicians, as well as by 
Professor Alrutz. The "subjects" were, in this case, 
ladies of good Swedish families, who had never seen or 
heard of the instrument before. They were, however, 
during the experiments, treated as professional "me- 
diums," and every precaution was taken to prevent 
fraud. The following were some of the precautions ob- 
served : 

The light was sufficiently good to enable the observers 
to see that no threads or hairs were attached to the 
board or any part of the apparatus or balance. They 
also ascertained this with their hands. It was also seen 
that none of the subjects lifted the board by slipping 
their fingers under the edges of the board and pulling 
it upwards. (It may be remarked in this connection 
that even had they done so this would not account for 
the results noted; since, in several instances, the down- 
ward pressure recorded was more than the weight of 
the entire board.) As the eyes of the observers were 
close to the board and to the fingers of the subjects, it 
was clearly seen, however, that nothing of the sort took 
place. Besides, as before said, the subjects who tried 
the board were ladies, and not professional "psychics" 
in any sense of the word. 



THE HUMAN WILL 119 

It was also ascertained that no sticky material was 
upon the fingers of the subjects; they were carefully ex- 
amined both before and after each experiment. Fur- 
ther, to test this hypothesis fully, thin strips of wood 
(shavings) were on several occasions introduced between 
the subjects' fingers and the board, which was depressed. 
Had they lifted their fingers, therefore, they could not 
possibly have lifted the board, which would not have 
adhered to them under these circumstances. 

3rd Series. — Two "functionaries of state" attended 
this series, the principal subject tried being the wife 
of one of these dignitaries. He himself was extremely 
sceptical of his wife's ability to move the board, and 
remained so until convinced by the facts ! The board 
was lowered, and the balance showed a pressure of from 
70 to 100 grammes. The subject was extremely fatigued 
after these tests, and went to sleep almost immediately. 
Others who tried the board could obtain a registration 
of only 2 or 3 grammes. 

4th Series. — Several very successful trials were made 
in this series with two ladies as subjects. Both placed 
their hands on the board together, and the depressions 
were of very long duration. In these experiments sooted 
paper was placed under the hands of the experimenters. 
It was noted that better results were obtained if one of 
them cried "Now !" when the board was to be depressed. 
The desire to sleep was strong after these trials, and in 
one instance the subject really did fall asleep during 
the experiment ! An odd fact which should be noted 
in this connection is that no results were obtained un- 
less the subject looked at the long end of the board while 
the "willing" was in progress. 



120 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

5th Series. — This series of experiments was attended 
by a well-known physician and a psychologist. The 
light was good as before. From 40 to 50 grammes were 
registered by the balance on several occasions, the down- 
ward pressure lasting from 20 to 30 seconds. Clearly, 
therefore, none of these depressions could be attributed 
to mere oscillations of the board, but denoted a definite 
and persistent downward pressure. 

Nausea and a strong desire for sleep were experienced 
by the subjects in this series of experiments, as before. 

The above is a very rapid summary of the report 
drawn up by Dr. Sydney Alrutz, and read to the Sixth 
Psychological Congress, which met at Geneva in August 
1909. Professor Alrutz also attended the Congress in 
person, and brought with him one of his instruments, 
which he desired to try upon some of the members in 
the presence of a number of psychologists. In several 
instances these attempts were entirely successful; and 
Professor Flournoy, editor of the Archives de Psychol- 
ogie, was enabled to say of these experiments: 

''Professor Alrutz invited me to assist in two seances, 
in which we experimented upon some of the feminine 
members of the Congress who desired to try it. The 
first, in which the subject was Mme. Glika, yielded 
nothing conclusive. But at the second, at which Pro- 
fessor Alrutz attempted to increase the force by adding 
two other members of the Congress (strangers who had 
appeared to him to possess suitable temperaments), it 
succeeded fully, and I was able to prove conclusively 
after three trials, and under conditions precluding all 
possibility of fraud or illusion, that the will of these 



THE HUMAN WILL 121 

ladies, concentrated upon a certain material object with 
a desire to produce a movement in it, ended by produc- 
ing this movement as if by means of a fluid or an in- 
visible force obeying their mental command." (Spirit- 
ism and Psychology, p. 291.) 

So much for the testimony of Professor Flournoy and 
Professor Alrutz. In view of the facts and the well- 
known caution of these investigators, we may assuredly 
take it for granted that there is here no room for doubt, 
and that the manifestations really took place as re- 
corded. 

My own experiments with this board have not, un- 
fortunately, proved nearly so conclusive as those of 
Professor Alrutz — owing, doubtless, to the rarity of 
good "physical mediums" or those capable of exercising 
their will in the desired manner. It must not be 
thought that any one possessing a "strong will" can 
manipulate the board — as Professor Alrutz has pointed 
out. It is only a peculiarly endowed person who can 
move the board, one capable not only of exercising the 
necessary will power, but also of externalising it — a very 
rare power. Hence the small number of successes. 
Out of all those tried, I have found only two who 
could (apparently) move the board at all, and even in 
their cases the results were far less striking than in the 
cases reported by Professor Alrutz. In one case a num- 
ber of slight depressions were obtained; but these were 
so fleeting, and lasted for so short a time, that it was 
almost impossible to be certain that the results were not 
due to mere oscillations of the board. In the second 
case, however, more definite results were obtained. On 



122 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

several occasions, depressions of half an ounce were 
noted; and, on two occasions, of more than an ounce, 
lasting for several seconds. I was enabled to assure 
myself at the time that these depressions were real, and 
were not the result of fraudulent manipulation of the 
board. Although these results are few and meagre com- 
pared with those of Professor Alrutz, still they tend to 
confirm his views, and add to the testimony adduced by 
him and by Professor Flournoy, in favour of the reality 
of the facts — of the actual physical pressure by the Will 
upon the board in question. 

In view of these results, then — of this apparently 
mutually confirmatory testimony — it seems impossible 
to doubt the fact that we have here definite and con- 
clusive proof that the human will has succeeded in de- 
pressing the board in question — in being registered upon 
the balance, and, consequently, that it is a physical 
energy, capable of affecting the material world just as 
any other physical energy does. 



PART II 

Theories 

It may be contended, however, that in thus postulat- 
ing the human will as a physical energy I have not 
taken into account the alternative explanation of the 
facts which might be adopted or assumed. This theory 
contends that it is not the will itself which causes the 
movement we observe, but the cerebral activity which 
corresponds to it, and is its physiological counterpart. 



THE HUMAN WILL 123 

It has frequently been pointed out before (c/. Ribot, 
The Diseases of the Will, pp. 5, 6), that when we will to 
move our arm, e. g., it may not be the will at all, per se, 
which affects the movement, but the brain-state or neural 
activity which accompanies the act of will. In other 
words, mind or will never affects matter (as we feel it 
does), but it is always one portion of the body which 
affects another portion — the will or state of conscious- 
ness being merely coincidental with this observed action. 

This has been one of the classical objections to the 
doctrine of inter-actionism ; and it must not be thought 
that I have failed to take into account this alternate 
theory. But opposed to this view of the case we have 
the facts — (1) that the state of consciousness, and not 
the brain-state, is surely here the important factor; and 
(2) that, even were the supposition true, this nervous 
action or influence must cease at the periphery of the 
body ; for, were this not the case, we should already have 
exceeded the limits of the orthodox physiological theory, 
which contends that one portion of the body affects an- 
other portion (only), and does not contend or pretend 
that this action may extend beyond the surface of the 
body ; for, if it did so extend, we should have a nervous 
current without nerves — an appalling fact, and one 
totally opposed to accepted physiological teaching! 

In order for nervous energy or life force to exist 
independent of the body (upon the functionings of 
which it supposedly depends), it would be necessary for 
us to reconstruct the mechanistic interpretation of life, 
since it would show that life is not dependent upon the 
body for its existence, but might exist independently of 
it, which is the very point in dispute. It cannot logically 



124 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

be contended, therefore, that the energy which we here 
see in operation lies in the nerves or in the brain-centres, 
but rather that it is a separate force, which physiology, 
as taught today, cannot account for. Introspection and 
experiment seem to unite in telling us that this energy 
is none other than the human Will. 

But if it be granted, on the other hand, that the will 
is a physical energy, we immediately encounter certain 
difficulties which must not be ignored. In the first 
place, if the will be a physical energy, it is subject to 
the law of Conservation, and, consequently, must be in- 
cluded within the cycle of forces which that law en- 
compasses. Light, heat, chemical affinity, etc., are sup- 
posed to be mutually convertible and transmutable ; and, 
according to the present hypothesis, Will must also be 
included in this series! But every energy we know in 
the physical universe is a non-intelligent energy, and, 
as I have pointed out elsewhere, if we make the human 
will thus subject to the law of Conservation, it seems to 
form a unique exception to the law. For we know (if 
our consciousness tells us anything) that willing is an 
intelligent act, and we should consequently have this 
conscious act or intent left over in the equation. For 
we have, in all other cases, purely physical energy, and 
in this case physical energy plus something (conscious 
intent). The law of Conservation tells us that one 
energy is derived from another, and is converted again 
into another form of physical energy, when it is ex- 
pended. But if will, ex hypothesi a physical energy, is 
derived from another physical energy (by a process of 
combustion, or what you will), we have here a case of 
the lesser including the greater — of a thing giving rise 



THE HUMAN WILL 125 

to something greater and more inclusive than itself — 
which is contrary to all accepted thinking. The will, 
therefore, cannot be entirely subject to the law of Con- 
servation, but appears to draw upon an additional fund 
or source of energy, which is infused into it, as it were, 
from without. This "thing" which is infused or super- 
added, this "something" which is the "plus" in our 
equation, appears to be the directive element, the life 
element, the sentient element — which is thus shown to 
lie outside the law of Conservation, as many physicists 
and philosophers (Lodge, Crookes, Bergson, etc.) have 
for some time past contended it must or might lie. 

One significant fact, in this connection, is that while 
the law of Conservation is doubtless true, so far as it 
goes, there is also in operation another law, well known 
to physicists, called the law of the Degradation of En- 
ergy, which asserts that energies of a higher order are 
constantly being converted into energies of a lower or- 
der. This law maintains that energies of a lower order 
cannot be reconverted into energies of a higher order. 
All other energies are being slowly but surely con- 
verted into heat — the lowest of all forms of energy. 
And this heat is gradually being dissipated, or radiated 
away, into space, so that, at some distant day, our uni- 
verse will be cold and lifeless, like the moon. 

Now it is a significant fact that the single exception 
to this rule consists in, and is constituted by, life, or 
vital energy, which is constantly building lower forms 
of energy into higher forms. Life is certainly the high- 
est form of energy which we know in this world, and all 
energies are below this in rank— as may readily be 
proved by an appeal to the facts of nutrition and meta- 



126 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

bolism. And, as life is constantly being added to or 
infused into the world (as the population increases), 
it is certainly true that there is here a definite increase 
of the sum-total of the highest form of energy of which 
we have any knowledge. Life thus occupies not only 
an important but a unique position — in that it is con- 
structive instead of destructive; and this fact alone 
should give us pause, and make us ask whether life is, 
in its totality, subject to and included within the law 
of Conservation of Energy. 

The establishment of the fact that the human will is 
a definite physical energy is of importance also, because 
of its bearing upon the problem of the connection or 
inter-relation of mind and matter. Theories as to this 
bond or connection have been propounded since the 
dawn of philosophy. Aristotle and others wrote and 
thought deeply upon this subject. As is well known, 
this question formed one of the central points of debate 
in the works of Hobbes, Berkeley, Hume, Descartes, 
Leibnitz, Spinoza, Kant, Hegel, Lotze, and many other 
philosophical writers — all of whom wrote and specu- 
lated at length upon this subject. The theories which 
have been advanced in the past are briefly as follows : x 

1st. Crude Materialism. — This doctrine contends that 
consciousness is merely matter, or energy, or matter in 
motion. It is not necessary to discuss this theory here, 
as it is not held today by any scientist of the first rank. 

2nd. Epiphenomenalism. — This doctrine found its 

1 1 am indebted to Dr. M'DougalPs excellent work, Body and 
Mind, for the data from which I have condensed the following 
summary. 



THE HUMAN WILL 127 

foremost champion in Huxley. It contends that the 
important happenings are the brain-changes — which are 
causally connected — and that our thoughts, or corre- 
sponding states of consciousness, merely accompany the 
brain-changes, just as the shadow of a horse may be said 
to accompany the horse. 

The objections of this doctrine are: — 

(a) That it is just as inconceivable to believe or im- 
agine that brain-changes generate consciousness as it is 
to imagine that consciousness generates brain-changes. 

(&) The law of Conservation is preserved at the ex- 
pense of the law of Causality. For, if no part of the 
cause passed over into the effect (the state of conscious- 
ness), the law of Causality would be violated.. 

(c) The appearance of consciousness, at some definite 
point in the course of the evolution of the animal king- 
dom constitutes a breach of continuity. 

For these and other reasons epiphenomenalism is to- 
day held by few, if any, philosophers. 

3rd. Psycho<-Physical Parallelism. — This is the doc- 
trine maintained by Miinsterberg and others. It con- 
tends that brain-changes and states of consciousness are 
merely coincidental in point of time, and do not ever 
influence each other. Their relation is that of mere 
coincidence or concomitance, and not causation. The 
two flow along, side by side, without in any way inter- 
fering with one another. 

As regards this doctrine, it need only be pointed out 
that, were it true, mind and body could never influence 
one another, since they are not causally connected. Yet, 
if there be no connection, how is it that they correspond 



128 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

so exactly? — for, as James said, "It is quite inconceiv- 
able that consciousness should have nothing to do with a 
business which it so faithfully attends." 

4:th. Phenomenalistic Parallelism. — This is the theory 
maintained by Kant, Spinoza, and others. It maintains 
that both brain and consciousness (or mind and body) 
are but two different expressions of one underlying 
reality — just as the convex and concave surfaces of a 
sphere are but two expressions of an underlying reality. 
As to the nature of this reality, Kant and Herbert 
Spencer were content to call it X or the unknown, while 
Spinoza maintained that it was God. 

Analogies which are held to support this doctrine are, 
however, extremely defective; but the subject is too 
lengthy and technical to elucidate in detail here. 

5th. Psychical Monism. — This doctrine contends that 
consciousness is the only reality — the material world 
being external appearance only. Thoughts are causally 
connected, but not physical events. (The doctrine is 
thus the exact inverse of epiphenomenalism.) 

In refutation of this theory, it may be pointed out 
that, if brain-changes are thus caused by, or are the outer 
expressions of, thought — why not muscular changes, 
and in fact all physical phenomena throughout the 
world everywhere ? For we cannot rationally draw the 
line of distinction here. Such is the logical outcome of 
the theory — and has, in fact, been accepted in this form 
by Fechner and others. 

While many philosophers are inclined to accept this 
view, it may be stated that the physical scientists are, 
naturally, repelled by it, and so is common sense ! 

6th. Solipsism. — The contention of this theory is that 



THE HUMAN WILL 129 

nothing exists save states of consciousness in the in- 
dividual. Neither the material world nor other minds 
exist, save in the mind of the individual. This doctrine 
is so opposed to common sense and daily experience that 
it is unnecessary to dwell upon it. 

1th. Inter-Actionism (Animism). — Here we have the 
world-old notion of soul and body existing as separate 
entities, influencing each other. Mind is here supposed 
to influence matter, and utilize it for the purposes of 
its manifestation. 

That there are many facts difficult to account for on 
this theory cannot be doubted. Heredity and the origin 
of life must be taken into account; the "inconceiva- 
bility" of the process has some weight; and the appar- 
ent infringement of the law of Conservation of Energy 
is a serious objection. Further, it may be urged, what 
evidence have we that consciousness can exist apart 
from brain-functioning? And, it may be said, apart 
from the facts offered by "psychical research," so- 
called, there is no evidence, strictly speaking. Hence 
the importance of these phenomena, if true. But the 
greatest objection to the doctrine of inter-actionism is 
doubtless that drawn from the law of the Conservation 
of Energy, which says that, inasmuch as mind is a non- 
physical energy, inasmuch as matter cannot be affected 
by a non-physical cause, brain-changes cannot result 
from will, or the activities of the mind. 

But once prove that the human will is a physical en- 
ergy, and this objection is readily disposed of. A phys- 
ical energy is doubtless quite capable of causing all the 
changes within the brain which we know to exist within 
it — molecular, chemical, whatever they may be. It at 



130 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

once removes this classical objection to the doctrine of 
inter-actionism ; and at the same time virtually proves 
that theory correct — thus solving this problem once and 
for all! 

It may be pointed out, en passant, that philosophers 
and metaphysicians have really attacked this problem 
from the wrong standpoint — in their arguments concern- 
ing the relations of mind and brain — for this is a ques- 
tion which might have been (and in my opinion should 
have been) determined not by argument, but by fact. 
Instead of arguing, a priori, as to the nature of the 
connection, the problem might have been solved in the 
same way that all other problems are solved, viz., by an 
appeal to evidence and fact. The fundamental point 
made by practically all philosophers, in discussing this 
question, is that brain-states and conscious states are 
always found together, and that consciousness can never 
exist in the absence of brain. In other words, mind 
cannot exist as an "independent variable" in the world; 
it must always accompany a human brain. 

I pass over, without comment, the fact that, accord- 
ing to the doctrines of idealistic monism and psycho- 
physical parallelism, this independence is virtually 
allowed, by the very nature of the doctrine; and shall 
point out merely that, if consciousness could be proved 
to exist independent of brain functioning, philosophic 
theories would have to be remodelled to conform to the 
evidence ; the a priori problem could be settled at once 
by an appeal to actual fact. And again this separate 
existence of consciousness seems to be established by the 
facts of "psychical research," which apparently show 
that mind can exist apart from brain structure. This 



THE HUMAN WILL 131 

important fact once established, it would at once alter 
the whole case and render inter-actionism not only a 
"respectable" theory, but a proved fact. 

So much for the importance of this doctrine (that 
the will is a physical energy) from the point of view 
of philosophy, and as applied to the question of the 
inter-relation of brain and mind. Now let us see if it 
cannot be applied in another direction. 

The present interpretation of the character and na- 
ture of the will, and its inclusion as a physical energy, 
has a distinctly important bearing upon one of the most 
bitterly disputed points in the whole history of phi- 
losophy, viz., the question of the Freedom of the Will. 

As is well known, there are two opposing views upon 
this subject — held by opposite schools — the theory of 
Determinism, on the one hand, and of Free Will on the 
other. The Libertarians assert that our wills are free — 
we having power of choice in all our actions. The De- 
terminists, on the other hand, contend that our thoughts 
and actions are determined by definite, ascertainable 
causes. They contend that the feeling of freedom we 
all experience is but illusory, and that, in reality, our 
every action is inevitable — predetermined by its previous 
cause of causes, and could have been predicted by an in- 
telligence wide enough and possessing a grasp deep 
enough of human nature to perceive life in all its ten- 
dencies. Indeed, one eminent philosopher went so far 
as to say that a belief in Free Will showed simple igno- 
rance of science and a clinging to superstition! 

A great deal has been written upon this subject of 
Free Will in the past; the point has been bitterly dis- 
puted for years. It may be said, however, that, at the 



132 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

present day, practically all philosophers and scientists, 
with few exceptions (e. g., James, Schiller, Bergson, 
etc.), believe in Determinism. The arguments for that 
doctrine are certainly weighty, and may be summarized, 
briefly, as follows: 

1. The Law of Conservation of Energy tells us that 
no energy can be added to or abstracted from the total 
stock of physical energy in the universe. If the will be 
a non-physical energy (as it is conceived to be, by psy- 
chologists), it cannot affect the physical world, for if 
it did the law of Conservation of Energy would be over- 
thrown. Hence, the will cannot affect the material 
world: hence, it cannot be a true cause. 

2. Biology contends that heredity and environment 
alone are capable of explaining the actions and move- 
ments of the lower organisms, without postulating any 
' ' will. ' ' Inasmuch as man is connected with these lower 
organisms by an unbroken line of descent, why should 
not these factors explain man's actions also? 

3. Physiology teaches that in-coming nerve stimuli 
give rise to certain physical changes in the nerve cells 
or centres, which, in turn, give rise to out-going (affer- 
ent) currents. There is here an arc or loop of un- 
broken physical causation; and there is no "room" for 
consciousness, save as an " epiphenomenon, " as postu- 
lated by Huxley. 

4. The Law of Causation tells us that an effect must 
have a cause, and that the cause must, in a certain 
sense, resemble the effect — since the effect is, in a sense, 
the cause translated. But, inasmuch as the effect is a 
physical event, the cause must also be physical in its 



THE HUMAN WILL 133 

nature; hence will (supposedly a non-physical event) 
cannot possibly play a part, or be a true cause. 

5. Philosophical Science contends that Nature is a 
"closed circle." Mechanical causation holds supreme 
sway. Everything happens according to law and order. 
If Free Will were allowed a place in the scheme of 
things, chance and caprice would immediately be intro- 
duced into our world — which could never be tolerated 
for a moment ! 

6. Psychology holds that every mental state has its 
equivalent or counterpart in a corresponding brain- 
state. But each brain-state is not caused by the state 
of consciousness, but by the preceding brain-state. 
Here, again, there is no room for "free will" to play 
any part. 

(Inasmuch as we are approaching this subject from 
a purely scientific point of view, the arguments drawn 
from sociology, ethics, and theology need not here be 
discussed. The interested reader is referred to Pro- 
fessor H. H. Home's excellent little book, Free Will and 
Human Responsibility, for an extremely clear summary 
of this problem.) 

The reply of the Libertarian to these problems is 
usually somewhat as follows: 

1. The doctrine of Conservation has not been experi- 
mentally proved with regard to the relation of mind 
and brain; it is only assumed. Still, granting it to 
exist, all energy may, in its ultimate analysis, be psy- 
chical, instead of physical, in its nature — the doctrine 
of idealism, which is today gaining wider and wider 
acceptance, seeming to support this view. 



134 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

2. That man resembles the lower animals does not 
prove that he is identical with them. On the contrary, 
the observed differences constitute the very differences 
about which the argument rages. Further, recent the- 
ories of organic evolution are tending to prove that in- 
terior (spontaneous) forces play a part, as well as 
exterior forces. 

3. If consciousness were a mere " epiphenomenon, " 
having no "use" to the organism, it would soon perish 
(if it ever appeared) according to the law which says 
that all useless functions perish. But we know that, as 
a matter of fact, consciousness has grown more and more 
complex, as evolution has progressed. 

4. The Law of Causation is doubtless valid and uni- 
versal; but to assume that this is invariably physical 
begs the question at issue. May there not be psychical 
causation? Only thorough-going materialism can say 
"No" to this question; but materialism is today out of 
date. 

5. The Philosophy of Nature. — This is a strong argu- 
ment, a priori, but is subject to re-interpretation, in the 
light of new facts, to which it must conform. Facts 
might be adduced which proved this particular view of 
nature wrong. It is, in short, only a working hy- 
pothesis, subject to revision, as new facts are adduced, 
tending to alter it. 

6. Psychology. — Our ignorance of the possible rela- 
tion of brain and mind is no excuse for our dogmatic- 
ally asserting that no such connection is possible. It 
may be a fact, though unintelligible to us. Mental 
states may influence, partially at least, successive brain- 
states. We cannot say. If one man asserts that they 



THE HUMAN WILL 135 

cannot, another may assert that they do. Hence every 
one is at liberty to believe what he pleases ! Nothing is 
proved. 

If, now, we glance at the preceding arguments, we 
find that they may be summarized somewhat as follows : 

Arguments 2, 3, 5, and 6 are practically valueless, 
one way or the other. Both sides might claim a victory ; 
none of these arguments would settle the question. 

Argument 4 is certainly valid, to a certain extent, and 
can only be surmounted by assuming that a non-physical 
energy can affect physical energy. But I do not think 
that any physicist would be inclined to admit this. So 
that this argument cannot be used in support of the 
doctrine of Free Will. 

There remains the first argument, drawn from the 
law of the Conservation of Energy. This is certainly 
the strongest of all (to my mind), and is, as it stands, 
valid. Though idealism may maintain that all physical 
energy may be, in its ultimate analysis, only psychical 
energy, I do not for a moment believe that any physicist 
really believes this, or that any man accepts it as a 
common-sense doctrine — one which can be acted upon in 
daily life. It is mere philosophical sophistry and hair- 
splitting, and we must believe, as a matter of fact, that 
physical energy is really physical, and not psychical, in 
its nature. 

As to the first portion of this argument, although the 
law of Conservation of Energy has never been shown to 
be invalid, when applied to the connection of brain and 
mind, still, every one probably believes that it does 
actually obtain, and that a brain-state cannot result in 
consequence of non-physical influences any more than 



136 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

any other physical event could so result. It is tacitly 
admitted, therefore, that the law of Conservation holds 
good here also, and that will cannot affect brain, because 
will is not a physical energy. 

"We are now in a position to see the tremendous im- 
portance of the facts contained in the first part of this 
chapter. Inasmuch as theory must follow fact; inas- 
much as it has been proved experimentally that the 
human will is a physical energy — this whole question of 
the relation of brain and mind, of the influence of the 
former by the latter, and the question of Free Will, 
must be remodelled in accordance with these facts. The 
whole Free Will controversy is settled at one stroke 
(and in favour of Free Will!), and all the books which 
have been written upon this subject, and all the thought 
and energy which have been expended in the past are 
thus shown to be so much waste-paper and wasted 
effort! For, as we have seen that the whole question 
resolves itself into the central problem of whether or not 
the law of Conservation of Energy is valid — whether 
will or mind can affect brain — it will be seen that the 
proof that will is a definite physical energy settles the 
case once and for all. Determinism is routed; Free 
Will wins the day; and here again, as usual, theory fol- 
lows fact, instead of dictating what those facts should 
be! At "one fell swoop" we are enabled to solve and 
to settle for ever one of the most bitterly disputed points 
in the whole history of philosophy and metaphysics ! 

This theory (might we not say, this fact?) that the 
will is a definite physical energy, at least in part, is thus 
of great philosophic, no less than scientific importance, 
if true. It even enables us to recast our conception of 



THE HUMAN WILL 137 

the origin of the world, and of all forces, and enables us 
to reconstruct — in a more or less intelligible manner — 
the story of Creation, contained in the first chapter of 
Genesis — an account which has been more ridiculed, 
perhaps, by dogmatic physicists than any other account 
in the whole Bible. 

Much has been written upon this subject in the past ; 
but it must be admitted that, from the point of view of 
physics, the whole difficulty lay in conceiving the first 
initial impulse which started our Universe on its endless 
way. All matter being but an expression of energy, all 
energy being (in all probability) but the varying modes 
or forms of expression of one underlying primal energy, 
the difficulty has been in accounting for the origin of 
this primal energy — the initial "push," so to say, which 
sent the Universe on its way. 

Many evolutionists have admitted that, once given 
this initial impulse, all might readily be accounted for. 
The difficulty lay in conceiving this primal impetus. 

But if Will be also a form of energy — though, as we 
have seen, only partly within the law and partly be- 
yond it — then it is conceivable that this energy, com- 
ing from a source external to that presented by phys- 
ical nature and physical science, should have infused or 
imparted enough energy (perhaps only an infinitesimal 
amount, enough to originate the impetus), which, ac- 
cording to Haeckel and others, is all that need be sup- 
posed, to enable us to account for the whole of organic 
and inorganic nature ! This fiat, having once gone 
forth, would originate, or be the source of, the first 
"cosmic urge" — would, in fact, supply that impetus 
which modern science has so long sought in vain! 



CHAPTER V 

MODERN DISSECTION OF THE HUMAN MIND 

Dissection of the mind! Can that too be dissected? 
"We hear much nowadays of dissection of the human 
body; of organs which have been transplanted and 
which perform their functions in the body of another 
animal; of marvellous operations, in which tissues and 
viscera have been removed, repaired, and replaced — 
seeming none the worse for their remarkable experience ; 
of operations which have been performed even upon 
the brain, in which whole segments have been cut away, 
and other delicate experiments undertaken — all of these 
marvels we have grown more or less accustomed to, by 
reason of the ease and certainty with which they are 
performed. But the human mind; that is a different 
matter. Here is something which, intangible in itself, 
seems incapable of dissection or of objective experi- 
mentation, in the ordinary sense of the word. Yet that 
is what present-day normal and abnormal psychology 
has been enabled to do ! Shakespeare 's adage : ' ' Who 
can minister to a mind diseased ? ' ' can now be answered 
by saying : "To a certain extent, the specialist in normal 
and abnormal psychology." 

If you shut your eyes, and turn your attention in- 
ward, in an attempt to find your real "self," you will 
probably find a good deal of difficulty in catching it. 
It will be found as illusory as the proverbial figure of 
Happiness, which ever flits on before us. The real cen- 

138 



DISSECTION OF THE HUMAN MIND 139 

tre of being, the self, the ego, the person, the individ- 
uality, evades us at every turn. Each of us has the 
feeling, under all ordinary and normal circumstances, 
that, as James expressed it, "I am the same self that I 
was yesterday." And one would be most astonished, 
I fancy, were he to wake up one fine morning and find 
himself some one else! Like the Arab in the tale, he 
would be bewildered indeed ! 

From the solitary desert 

Up to Bagdad, came a simple 

Arab ; there amid the rout 
Grew bewildered of the countless 
People, hither, thither, running, 
Coming, going, meeting, parting, 
Clamour, clatter, and confusion, 

All around him and about. 

Travel-wearied, hubbub-dizzy, 

Would the simple Arab fain 
Get to sleep, — "But then on waking, 
How," quoth he, "amid so many 

"Waking, know myself again ? ' ' 

So, to make the matter certain, 
Strung a gourd about his ankle, 
And, into a corner creeping, 
Bagdad and himself and people 
Soon were blotted from his brain. 

But one that heard him and divined 
His purpose, slyly crept behind; 



140 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

From the sleeper's ankle clipping, 
Round his own the pumpkin tied, 
And laid him down to sleep beside. 

By and by the Arab waking 
Looks directly for his signal — 
Sees it on another's ankle — 
Cries aloud, "Oh, good-for-nothing 

Rascal to perplex me so, 
That by you I am bewildered, 

Whether I be I or no ! 
If I — the pumpkin why on you ! 
If You — then where am I, and who ? ' ' 

One can quite appreciate the tangled state of our 
Arab's mind on awakening under such peculiar circum- 
stances, and, from the point of view of common sense and 
common experience, such an awakening would be an 
utter impossibility — fit only for fairy tales and the tra- 
ditions of savage tribes. Yet, in our own day, here in 
civilized New York and London, similar cases have 
been recorded and studied by experts! Under peculiar 
circumstances, patients have gone to sleep one person 
and awakened another ; and they have remained another, 
not only during the first temporary moments of bewil- 
derment, but sometimes for days, weeks, and months at 
a time ; and in some cases even whole years have elapsed 
before the first "self" returned to tenant the body, to 
look out of the eyes it had looked out of years before; 
to take up the self-conscious life it had lain down in 
sleep. And to this there may be the added horror that, 
during the intervening period of oblivion (for this Self) 



DISSECTION OF THE HUMAN MIND 141 

the same external body, actuated by another "Self," 
may have performed actions and lived a course of life 
utterly at variance with the tastes and desires of the 
primary "Self." The other Self may even have mar- 
ried the common body in the interval — to a man whom 
the original self had never known — does not know now ! 
There may even have been children; friends, environ- 
ment, all, all may have been changed in the interim. 
Like Rip van Winkle, the setting of life may be found 
to have altered; but in some of these cases, the awaken- 
ing must be the greater nightmare. The unfamiliarity, 
even horror, of the situation can be imagined. Yet 
many such cases exist; and the two Selves alternately 
usurp and manipulate a common body; the Real Self 
and the Stranger. Who and what is this Stranger? 
Apparently it is an alien spirit — another soul, per- 
chance, entangled miserably in the body of some equally 
unhappy mortal ! Yet modern psychology contends that 
such cases represent, for the most part, mere splits or 
dislocations or dissociations of the normal personality; 
and that the two or more Selves we see before us, at 
such times, are none of them a real self ; but mere frag- 
ments of the primary self, dissociated from it, owing to 
some shock or accident or disease. Let us see if we can 
penetrate a little deeper into this mystery of being ; and 
lay bare the secrets of this alien Self, as well as the orig- 
inal Self which owned the body from birth. 

The older psychology held that the mind was a unit; 
that it was a separate thing or entity, a sort of sphere, 
which, if it could ever be caught, would reveal all the 
secrets of True Being. Accordingly, they tried to catch 
this sphere-of -being, by inward reflection or "introspec- 



142 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

tion." But it was never caught! There are many rea- 
sons why this should be so, the chief reason being that 
a subject cannot be an object also ; it is as impossible 
for a thought to catch itself as it would be to turn a 
hollow rubber ball inside out without tearing the cover. 1 
But the newer psychology studies the mind objectively, 
from the outside, by means of recording instruments, 
and does not depend upon introspection for its results. 
Further, the very conception of the nature of the "self" 
is different ; it is not now considered an entity, as of old ; 
but rather a compound thing, a product, a complex, 
composed of a variety of elements. Instead of being 
considered a single gossamer thread, it is now thought 
to be rather a rope, composed of innumerable, inter- 
woven elements — and these, in turn, of still finer threads, 
until the subdivision seems endless. The mind, in other 
words, is thought to be compounded of innumerable 
separate elements; but held together, or compounded 
into one, by the normal action of the will, of attention, 
and the grip upon the personality of the true Self. 
"When this will is weakened; when the attention is con- 
stantly slackened, when the mind wanders, this single 
strand of rope separates and unravels. The "threads" 
branch out in various directions, no longer in control 
of the central, governing will; the Self has become dis- 
sociated or split-up into various minor Selves — all but 
parts of the real, total self; yet separate and distinct, 
nevertheless. And if enough of these threads become 

i It can be shown, theoretically, that this is possible in the 
"fourth dimension," but not in the third. This illustrates the 
difference between theory and practice — a point it might be well 
for Christian Scientists to keep in mind! 



DISSECTION OF THE HUMAN MIND 143 

joined together, or interwoven, one with another, it can 
easily be imagined that this second strand of rope might 
become a formidable opponent to the original strand; 
it might become so large and strong, in fact, by the con- 
stant addition of new threads, and the dissociation of 
these from the first, true strand, that it would assume a 
more important role, and become stronger, and finally 
even control the whole. What was originally but a sin- 
gle fine, divergent thread has become, in course of time, 
a successful rival to the original strand of rope. 

Now let us apply the analogy. The mind as a whole 
represents the rope; its elements or component parts 
are the threads ; and, under certain abnormal conditions, 
these can become torn away from the original Self — 
like little rivulets, branching off from the main stream 
of consciousness, forming independent selves. This is 
an abnormal condition; a splitting of the mind, a dis- 
sociation of consciousness. Another fragment of con- 
sciousness, distinct in itself, has been formed. Thus 
we have a case of so-called double consciousness, of al- 
ternating personality ; or, if there are three or more such 
splits or cleavages, of multiple personality. 1 

Now we are in a better position to understand the 
nature of this alien self which has been formed, and 
which alternately usurps the common body. It is no 
foreign spirit; it is not a demon or fiend which has en- 
tered into the subject; it is merely a portion of the pa- 
tient's own mind, acting independently a life of its 

i Although this theory of the "composite" nature of mind is 
now generally held, Mr. Myers has contended that the Self must 
have a fundamental unity — to enable it to withstand the shock 
of death. 



144 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

own. It is a portion of the real Self, functioning inde- 
pendently. Let us now see how these splits or disso- 
ciations take place. 

Often they are the result of some shock to the emo- 
tional nature. In one of Dr. Morton Prince's cases, the 
patient happened to look up and saw in the window the 
face of a man whom she had known years before, and 
with whom she had tragic emotional associations. It 
was storming at the time, and a lightning flash revealed 
the face in the window. It was a highly dramatic scene, 
and the shock to the patient's emotional nature caused 
her consciousness to split-up or become dissociated into 
various selves; and thenceforward for years these sep- 
arate "selves" lived independent lives, each ignorant 
of the life of the other. In this case, there were several 
such personalities which alternated ; and they were only 
finally unified and the real Self again restored by means 
of hypnotic suggestion, after a careful analysis of the 
various selves. This synthesis of the various streams of 
consciousness, and their ultimate unification into one 
primary normal self, is one of the most startling, as it 
is one of the most interesting and suggestive, feats of 
modern psychological medicine. 

The principle upon which many of these cures rest, 
and the efficacy of suggestion, is thus apparent. By its 
aid the skilled specialist in abnormal psychology is en- 
abled to gather up the ' ' loose ends ' ' of conscious life, as 
it were, and unify and consolidate them into one normal, 
healthy Self. He is enabled to weave them all together, 
and again restore the "sheath" or "wrapper" of the 
individual human will, keeping these threads in place 



DISSECTION OF THE HUMAN MIND 145 

henceforth, and restoring the healthy, normal person- 
ality; the mens sana in corpore sano. 

Exactly how all this can come about I shall now en- 
deavour to show. Before any of the more complex and 
complicated disorders of the mind can be understood, 
it will be necessary for us to discuss very briefly the 
nature of the subconscious mind — since it is upon this 
that all modern researches have in a great measure 
rested — upon the improved understanding of its nature 
that many of these cures rest. 

It has long been known that there is a sort of mind in 
us, capable, at times, of performing complicated and in- 
telligent actions without the co-operation or knowledge 
of the conscious mind. "We see examples of this daily — 
in the absent-minded actions of certain individuals, in 
the dream life, in hypnotic trance, and in many of the 
cases of normal and peculiar mental action, of which 
numerous examples might be given, but which are so 
well known that it is hardly necessary at this late date 
to elaborate in detail. The idea has been so exten- 
sively employed by Hudson in his theory of ''the sub- 
jective mind," and by others, that the general theory 
has pretty well saturated the public mind. Hudson's 
theory — otherwise open to many criticisms — is very lax, 
not to say erroneous, in its construction, and is not 
accepted today by any competent psychologist. Apart 
from the mysterious powers with which he endowed the 
"subjective" mind, he makes it now synonymous with 
the whole of the subconscious life outside the field of 
immediate consciousness; now as equivalent merely to 
the hypnotic stratum; now to a dream-like self, etc., 



146 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

until the term has become so elastic that it means 
nothing intelligible but everything in general! As un- 
derstood by the modern psychologist, the term " sub- 
conscious mind" must be defined far more accurately 
before we can proceed to use it as a working hypothesis. 
What, then, is understood by the subconscious mind? 
What part of us can perform conscious operations with- 
out our being conscious of them ? How can we perform 
intelligent operations without intelligence? It all de- 
pends upon the meaning we give to our terms. We 
must begin by explaining just what is meant by the 
"subconscious mind"; then, perhaps, we can better un- 
derstand its operations and aberrations. 

There are several theories as to the nature of this 
subterranean stratum of our being — this hidden self — 
each of which finds its champion in the modern psycho- 
logical schools. First, there is the theory that it consists 
merely in the mechanical workings of the brain — a 
purely physiological theory, which makes the subcon- 
scious mind synonymous with certain brain activities — 
much the same as a series of complex reactions. It is 
well known that there is a brain-change corresponding 
to every thought we think; and the nature of the con- 
nection between the two has been one of the most de- 
bated points in metaphysics, and is one which, if we 
thoroughly understood it, would doubtless solve in a 
great measure the nature of life and of consciousness. 
Without going into this very complex question, however, 
there remains the undoubted fact of the connection; 
the thought, which is known by us in consciousness ; and 
the brain-change, which has been verified by ingenious 
mechanical and electrical instruments, and the effects 



DISSECTION OF THE HUMAN MIND 147 

of which we behold in the chemical changes in the brain- 
substance itself after severe thinking. This being so, 
it has been said, Why not suppose that so-called sub- 
conscious actions are merely brain activities which take 
place, but which have never risen into consciousness? 
Professor Mtinsterberg and others hold this view. It 
has been conclusively shown, however, by Dr. Morton 
Prince and others, that this theory fails to explain ade- 
quately many of the facts — seems indeed contrary to 
much experimental evidence ; and this view is now given 
up by all but the most materialistic of the modern psy- 
chological school. We have to search deeper yet for 
the mystery of the subconscious mind; and we shall 
have to grant it a certain amount of consciousness of its 
own, apart from all purely brain activity. 

A very opposite theory is that advanced by Mr. F. W. 
H. Myers — that of the "subliminal self." This theory 
says that the conscious mind is but an infinitely small 
part of our total self — a mere fragment; that portion 
best adapted to meet the needs of everyday life. To 
borrow an analogy from physics, "consciousness is only 
the visible portion of the spectrum; the invisible, ultra 
portions are our subconscious selves." I shall not ven- 
ture upon a criticism of this theory beyond saying that 
the majority of modern psychologists do not hold to it; 
and hence, whether it be ultimately true or false, we 
must disregard it for our present purposes. 

Thirdly, there is the theory that the subconscious mind 
is composed entirely of dissociated or split-off ideas — 
ideas which have been dissociated or split off from the 
main stream of consciousness, much as a few freight cars 
might be shunted on to a side track by the switch- 



148 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

engine. This hypothesis is very similar to another 
theory, which contends that the subconsciousness con- 
sists of dissociated experiences — mental happenings 
which have been forgotten or passed beyond voluntary 
recall. For these mental states, or rather trains of 
thought, Prince has suggested the term "co-conscious," 
because they are conscious processes in operation at the 
same time as the normal consciousness. This theory is 
doubtless far nearer an adequate explanation of the facts 
than that which contends that the subconscious is merely 
a portion of the field of consciousness which happens to 
lie outside the field of attention, because that is a theory 
certainly inadequate to cover the facts. This last hy- 
pothesis is one which seems to be favoured by Coriat 
and others, but it is certainly limited in its application. 

Now let us see if we cannot obtain a clearer grasp of 
the facts, in view of the above discussion as to the na- 
ture of the subconscious mind. We may sum-up the 
facts as follows: — 

As the result, either of some sudden shock, or by 
reason of certain subjective psychological practices car- 
ried to an extreme, we have a splitting of the mind 
into two or more separate streams, which function sep- 
arately and independently, and generally with no mem- 
ory connection between the two, so that each is ignorant 
of what the other stream, or self, is doing. This is 
already an abnormal condition, a pathological state, and 
its severity depends upon the degree of cleavage be- 
tween the streams of thought. If this be deep and 
lasting, we have a well-marked case of hysteria, or other 
disorders to be noted immediately ; if, on the other hand, 
the cleavage be slight, we have merely absent-minded- 



DISSECTION OF THE HUMAN MIND 149 

ness, wandering of the mind, and many lesser symptoms 
which indicate this tendency to dissociation, and which 
should be checked at all costs in their inception, since 
they are symptomatic of the tendency to disintegration 
of the mind, and which, if unchecked, would lead to 
grave disturbances later on. It is because of this fact 
that too much automatic writing, crystal-gazing, medi- 
tation, attendance at spiritistic circles, etc., is harmful; 
they one and all induce a passive state of the mind 
which favours dissociation and disintegration. Many 
of the insanities start in this fashion ; and all such prac- 
tices, instead of being encouraged, should be discour- 
aged; and all experienced and intelligent students of 
psychical research warn those who ' ' dabble ' ' in the sub- 
ject against the repeated and promiscuous indulgence 
in such practices — because of the dangerous, even dis- 
astrous, effects upon the mind, in many instances. 

But we have not yet reached a distinctly morbid state. 
This dissociation may be slight, and of little conse- 
quence; and may even be completely "healed" without 
the knowledge of the patient ; without his knowledge 
that anything strange has taken place at all — just as 
tubercular lesions of the lungs may be healed without 
the patient ever having known that he had suffered 
from tuberculosis. The co-conscious stream may again 
be diverted into the main, healthy channel; the threads 
of the wounded mind may again be bound up, with only 
a scar to indicate where the delicate protective covering 
had been ruptured. If such is the case, all is well 
thenceforward. 

But the termination of the accident may not be so 
fortunate. If, as before said, the cleavage be deep and 



150 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

lasting; and if, instead of attempting to bind up the 
wounded mind, those practices which caused the original 
"split" be persisted in; if shock follow shock — to the 
mental, moral, emotional, or physical nature; if great 
exhaustion, lack of sleep, or of proper food, or other 
causes of a like nature, be present — then it is evident 
that the cleavage must become deeper and deeper yet; 
and, in a short time, the few stray, wandering thoughts 
become grouped and bound together, and begin to form 
a veritable psychological entity. A secondary, an alien 
self, has been formed. And just as it is increasingly 
difficult to dam-up a river which has once found its 
way to some unaccustomed channel, so this secondary 
stream of consciousness will soon become a rushing, 
mighty torrent, incapable of being checked or dammed 
in its mad course. 

So long as this split-off portion remains a mass of 
sporadic thoughts, not much damage has been done; 
but when they become abnormally linked or associated 
together, forming groups, then the abnormal conditions 
have begun in earnest. These masses of subconscious 
experiences are called "complexes," and give rise to all 
sorts of trouble. It must not be thought that this com- 
plex formation is always harmful ; on the contrary, this 
very process, when normally conducted, is the basis of 
our educational processes. But when they are thus con- 
glomerated and consolidated outside the conscious mind, 
and function automatically, involuntarily, by themselves, 
then they have become dangerous to the mental stabil- 
ity. Their pressure and influence may be felt in the 
conscious life — in fantastic imaginations, in fears, pho- 
bias, and obsessions — in morbid dreams — in morbid emo- 



DISSECTION OF THE HUMAN MIND 151 

tional and moral reactions throughout the entire psycho- 
physical life. It is these automatic, self-acting com- 
plexes which originate many of the disorders of the 
mind. 

How, then, are we to diagnose this condition when 
once it has been reached; and, when once diagnosed, 
how is it to be treated? These are the all-important 
questions which modern psychological students have set 
themselves to solve, with more or less success. As 
briefly as may be, these are the methods. 

In the first place, a careful system of observation, 
question, and experiment will yield many important 
results. An analysis of the dream life will prove of 
great value in this connection also. If the dreams can- 
not be voluntarily recalled, they are brought to light 
by means of hypnotism, psycho-analysis, or the employ- 
ment of what is known as the "hypnoidal" state — as 
induced by Dr. Boris Sidis. This is an artificially in- 
duced condition, half-way between sleeping and waking; 
in which many half-forgotten experiences again merge 
into the mind; and even thoughts which had never been 
in the conscious mind at all — subconscious observations, 
etc., or the content of the dream life. These dreams 
are then analysed. It is a very striking fact that differ- 
ing or alternating selves may have entirely different 
dreams; or, on the other hand, different and distinct 
selves may have a common meeting-place in the dream 
world. By means of dreams, it has thus been possible 
to come in touch with the thoughts of the other Self, 
which had been impossible by any other means at our 
disposal. A study and analysis of the dream life has 
thus assumed great importance within the past few 



152 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

years, and bids fair to assume greater and greater im- 
portance as the study of the subconscious, and abnormal 
psychology, increases. 

Other methods of tapping the subconscious mental 
life are : planchette, automatic writing and crystal- 
gazing. In the former cases, a pencil is placed in the 
hand of the subject, or the hand is placed on a plan- 
chette; and, while the conscious mind is occupied in 
conversation, or reading aloud, etc., the hand is, never- 
theless, writing out an account of its experiences — its 
thoughts and feelings — which prove highly valuable to 
the investigator. Or the patient may be asked to look 
into a crystal, and describe what, if any, visions and 
pictures form within the ball. These pictures are, of 
course, hallucinatory; but they indicate, none the less, 
the content of the subconscious mind; since they are 
the externalized thoughts and feelings of that stratum 
of the mind. Here, again, we have a valuable means of 
diagnosis. 

Again, we have a purely experimental method of 
studying the emotions — by means of the galvanometer. 
An electric current being passed through the body, 
variations in the current are detected by means of an 
electric needle, which fluctuates as the current varies. 
Now, it has been found that these fluctuations vary in 
accordance with changed emotional states ; and that in 
certain conditions of the mind, such as dementia, the 
variations are almost entirely absent, because of the lack 
of emotional reactions. It has thus been found that this 
form of insanity is largely a disease of the emotional life. 
On the other hand, when the emotions are strong, the 
fluctuations of the needle are very marked and pro- 



DISSECTION OF THE HUMAN MIND, 153 

longed. We have thus another most valuable method of 
testing the emotional life — always largely subconscious 
— by means of purely mechanical instruments. 

Finally, we have hypnotism, the skilled employment 
of which has been found of inestimable value in laying 
bare the secrets of the subconscious life. By its aid it 
has been found possible to disclose the secrets of being, 
to tap the subconscious mind at will, to explore the 
hidden regions of Self, which would otherwise have re- 
mained for ever inaccessible to the experimenter. For, 
by placing the patient in the hypnotic condition, the 
subconscious mind is exposed to view, as it were, and 
its secrets made manifest. The wounds and scars are 
thus rendered visible to the mental eye of the physician, 
and he is enabled to treat his case accordingly. 

Yes, hypnotism has been found one of the chief means 
of cure as well as of diagnosis. By its aid the tangled 
skein of the mental life may be unravelled, the mental 
knots may be untied, and the threads may be woven and 
plaited together again into one normal, healthy chain of 
being. This may be accomplished by means of sugges- 
tion rightly applied. When once the hidden complex 
has been brought to the surface, when its story is told, 
its secrets laid bare, it seems incapable of doing more 
damage, of again influencing the mental life detriment- 
ally. Its life, its vitality, seems to have gone ; its am- 
munition has been stolen, it has "shot its bolt," it is 
incapable of doing more injury to the normal self. 
Many hidden fears, depressions, and obsessions have 
been removed in this manner, simply by bringing these 
hidden fears and thoughts to the surface and disposing 
of them by means of suggestion. Many seemingly mirac- 



154 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

ulous cures have been effected in this manner. The 
"demons" have been expelled, the brooding thoughts 
have vanished. This method of dispelling them is tech- 
nically known as the cathartic method, and consists 
simply in a frank and full confession. When this has 
been brought about, when the brooding thoughts have 
been brought to light — confessed and discharged, as it 
were, from the mind — then a cure will be found to 
have been wrought ; the man has again been made whole 
— a very significant fact if taken in connection with re- 
ligious conversion, communion, confession, and prayer. 
We have somewhat diverged, however, from our main 
theme, to which we must now return. We have seen 
that the subconscious mind may become, so to speak, 
diseased — this consisting very largely in the processes of 
dissociation, complex formation, etc. Further, we have 
seen that this dissociated, automatically-acting "self" 
may exist either as a separate stream of thought run- 
ning alongside of, or rather below the main current ; 
or may alternate with it, by rising to the surface and 
occupying the whole stage to the exclusion of the nor- 
mal consciousness — when we have those cases of alter- 
nating or multiplex personality which have so puzzled 
psychologists for many years — and the correct interpre- 
tation of which we are only just beginning to realize. 
When this complete change of "self" has taken place, 
we have those cases of altered personality referred to 
at the beginning of this chapter — cases which are tragic 
in the extreme in many instances, but which represent 
merely extreme types of those losses of memory from 
which we all suffer, to a greater or lesser extent, even 
in our normal life. The restoration of lost memories 



DISSECTION OF THE HUMAN MIND 155 

by means of suggestion — the synthesis of the dissociated 
states — this is the key to the mystery, the great secret 
of modern psychotherapy. 

And this theory of dissociation of consciousness has 
enabled us to explain many puzzling facts hitherto in- 
explicable. Thus hysteria, with its multiform symptoms 
and its internal contradictions, has long been the stum- 
bling-block of medicine. Now it is no longer thought to 
be a morbid state (dependent usually upon sexual dis- 
turbances), but it is regarded rather as an indication of 
the splitting of the mind, a dissociation which embraces 
all the motor, physical, and psychical activities. On this 
theory, hysteria is easily explained and all its multiplex 
symptoms understood. In treating it, the self is unified, 
abnormal suggestibility is removed, and the patient is 
cured ! 

Psychaesthenia again, with its obsessions and fears, 
may be explained in the same manner, and its cure rests 
upon the same principles. The "attacks" cease so soon 
as the psychical synthesis is effected and the morbid 
self-consciousness removed. 

Neurasthenia, long regarded as a pathological state, 
due to auto-intoxication and similar causes, is now 
thought to be due chiefly to dissociation, caused by ex- 
cessive fatigue — one of the known contributory causes 
to this condition. Psycho-epilepsy — a sort of fictitious 
imitation of the real disease — is due to precisely similar 
causes, and may be cured in a similar manner. 

A word of caution may not be out of place in this 
connection. Inasmuch as hypnotism is itself a method 
of inducing a passive psychological state — one peculiarly 
open to suggestion of all kinds — it can readily be seen 



156 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

that its employment may be exceedingly dangerous, save 
in the hands of a skilled operator. It may be the very 
cause of a splitting of the mind — if improperly adminis- 
tered — if the patient is not thoroughly awakened, the 
effects of suggestion completely removed, etc. In this 
lies the great danger — of which we hear so much, usually 
with so little foundation ! The real danger in the proc- 
ess is thus apparent; but, properly applied, hypnotism 
is doubtless of great therapeutic utility and of great 
practical value to the psychologist. 

Just how these dissociations of the mind take place we 
do not yet know with any degree of certainty. We might 
suppose that certain areas in the brain-cortex become 
detached in their functionings, as it were, from the gen- 
eral activities, and set up a little "monarchy" of their 
own — interactions and associations going on within that 
area, but never extending beyond its periphery; that 
each one of these centres or areas corresponds to a 
"self," a personality; and that a cure consists, physio- 
logically speaking, in bringing about a healthy and nor- 
mal interaction between this "self" and the rest of the 
brain area, so that associations go on thenceforward in 
a complete and uniform manner. But this is pure 
speculation, for which there is no experimental evidence, 
though it probably represents something of the truth. 
At all events, the dissociation of the mind is the chief 
cause of the trouble, and its synthesis the chief means 
of cure. That much has been rendered certain by the 
newer researches in the field of the subconscious, and 
by the persistent search for that greatest of all secrets — 
the Mystery of Being. 



CHAPTER VI 

PSYCHIC PHOTOGRAPHY 

(New Experiments) 

In my Modern Psychical Phenomena (Chap, viii.) I re- 
produced a number of "spirit" and "thought" pho- 
tographs, the evidence for which seemed to me to be 
exceptionally good. Since that time, I have received a 
number of ' ' psychic ' ' photographs, from various sources, 
— some of them obviously fraudulent, and some of them 
extremely puzzling, when the circumstances of their 
production were fairly taken into account. It will be 
remembered, for instance, that I published a number of 
curious photographs obtained by Mr. E. P. Le Flohic, 
on whose plates curious streaks of light were obtained, 
in a dark room. Since then, I have discussed the mat- 
ter at some length with Mr. Le Flohic, and I am more 
than ever convinced that no conscious trickery was in- 
volved in the production of these pictures; I have also 
examined the negatives (plates), and am prepared to 
state that no external markings are upon them, and 
that they have not been tampered with in any way. In 
other words, the lights were undoubtedly in the room 
at the time the plates were exposed. Yet no one saw 
anything unusual ! It is a curious and baffling case. 

Since then, Mr. Le Flohic has tried other experiments, 
with almost uniform failure. In a letter dated August 
14, 1920, he says:— 

157 



158 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

"... Since resuming my experiments in psychic pho- 
tography, I have taken about 25 pictures, and with but 
two exceptions have had no results whatever. One of 
these I sent you some time ago, and the last one I am 
sending you under separate cover. (Reproduced as Figs. 
1, 2.) I have not had very favourable conditions for 
experiments, and discontinued them about three weeks 
ago. I am going to arrange soon to start a series of 
experiments, by myself, in my private library, and 
should I get any results, will gladly inform you." 

The curious streak of light noted in Fig. 2 is, on any 
theory, most remarkable. The central band seems to 
be dark in the middle, surrounded by a band of light, 
from which a golden "aura" radiates. The sitters saw 
nothing unusual — either in the dark, or during the flash- 
light, with which this picture was taken. 1 

Among the newer methods of experimentation I may 
mention "thought photography" — in which attempts 
have been made, by individuals, to obtain photographs of 
their own thoughts. 

This method of obtaining psychic or thought-photo- 
graphs is entirely different from that employed in ob- 

i Regarding the earlier photographs, however (those obtained 
by Mrs. Dupont Lee), further evidence has caused me to modify 
my belief in their supernormal value, and I should now attach 
no "evidental value" to them at all, strictly speaking. In an 
excellent criticism of the Lee photographs, published in the Pro- 
ceedings, Amer. S.P.R., vol. xiii. pp. 529-87, Dr. Walter F. 
Prince has shown the undoubtedly fraudulent character of the 
Lee photographs — certainly those with which Keeler had any- 
thing to do. The others are still sub judice. 



PSYCHIC PHOTOGRAPHY 159 

taining so-called ' ' spirit-photographs. " In the latter 
case, a camera is focused upon the sitter, who "sits" 
as usual, and the forms appear upon the plate when 
developed. In obtaining thought-photographs, no cam- 
era at all is used; the plates (or films) are carefully 
wrapped in opaque black paper and sealed up, so as to 
prevent the slightest ray of light from reaching the 
plates. These plates (or films) are then placed against 
the forehead, where they are held for from five minutes 
to half an hour, or longer, according to the patience of 
the experimenter and the degree of his psychic power. 
An intense effort is made to impress upon the plate, 
by an act of will, a mental picture or image held in the 
mind. Anything will do — the head of an eagle, the 
sun, the face of a friend. The plate is then taken into 
the dark-room, unwrapped and carefully developed. 
In those cases which have been successful, an image, 
more or less clear, of the picture held in mind will be 
found upon the plate. 

This will, I have no doubt, appear incredible to the 
average reader. The facts, nevertheless, remain ! Such 
photographs have been obtained — in America, France, 
Poland, Japan and other parts of the world. A series 
of careful, simultaneous experiments have proved to us 
that such photographs can be taken, under precisely 
the conditions I have described. 

Commandant Darget, of the French army, obtained a 
number of very striking photographs in this manner. 
A number of these are to be found in Joire's book, 
Psychical and Supernormal Phenomena, where we find 
thought-photographs of bottles, a walking-stick, the head 



160 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

of an eagle and other subjects obtained in this manner. 
Writing of the impression of the eagle's head, M. Dar- 
get says: 

"With regard to the eagle, it was produced in this 
way: Mme. Darget was in my office, lying on my sofa, 
about ten o 'clock in the evening. I said to her : ' I am 
about to put out the lamp and to try (as I have already 
done sometimes) to take a fluidic print over my fore- 
head. I will hand you a plate for you to do it as well.' 

"I therefore handed her a plate, which she held with 
both her hands about an inch in front of her forehead. 
A short time afterwards — it might be about ten minutes 
— she said to me : 'I think I am going asleep ; I am 
very tired: I am going to lie down.' And feeling her 
way in the darkness, she handed me the plate. 

"I then went to develop it, and was surprised to 
see this astonishing figure of an eagle. I have called 
it a 'dream-photograph,' although my wife does not re- 
member having dreamed of a bird or anything else while 
she held the plate." 

Dr. Baraduc, of Paris, likewise asserted that he had ob- 
tained psychic photographs of human radiations and of 
human thought. For instance, calm, peaceful emotions 
are said to produce pictures of softly homogeneous 
light, or the appearance of a gentle shower of snow- 
flakes against a black background; whereas sad or vio- 
lent passions suggest, in the arrangement of the light 
and shadows, the idea of a whirlpool or revolving storm, 
somewhat like a meteorological diagram representing a 
cyclone. If these photographs are really what they are 
believed to be, they would seem to indicate that, in our 



PSYCHIC PHOTOGRAPHY 161 

ordinary normal condition, we emit radiations which are 
regulated and flow forth in smooth, even succession; 
but when violent emotions, such as anger or fear, break 
through the control of the will and take possession of 
us, they produce a violent and confused emission. 

There is no reason, a priori, why the soul should not 
be a space-occupying body, save for the tradition of 
theology. For all that we know, the soul might be a 
point of force, existing within and animating some sort 
of ethereal body, which corresponds, in size and shape, 
to our material body. But at all events, there is an 
abundance of very good testimony to the effect that the 
shape of the spiritual body corresponds to that of the 
material body; and, as such, it certainly occupies space, 
and possibly has weight also. It might and it might 
not ; it is a question of evidence. It will have to be 
settled, if at all, not by speculations, but by facts. Are 
there any facts, then, that would seem to indicate that 
the soul might be photographed ? Have we any evidence 
that the soul may be photographed — say, at the moment 
of death? If so, we should have advanced a great step 
in our knowledge of this subject. 

Before I adduce the evidence on this point, however, 
it may be well to illustrate the fact that there is no 
inherent absurdity in the idea, as many might suppose. 
Of course the spiritual body would have to be material 
enough to reflect light waves, but where is the evidence 
that it is not? There seems to be much evidence, on 
the contrary, that it is. It must be remembered that 
the camera will disclose innumerable things quite in- 
visible to the naked eye, or even to the eye aided by the 
strongest glasses or telescopes. Normally, we can see 



162 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

but a few hundred stars in the sky ; with the aid of tele- 
scopes, we can see many thousand ; but the photographic 
camera discloses more than twenty million! Here, 
then, is direct evidence that the camera can observe 
things which we cannot see; and, indeed, this whole 
process of sight or "seeing" is a far more complicated 
one than most persons imagine. As Sir Oliver Lodge 
has pointed out, there is no reason why we should not 
be enabled to photograph a spirit, when we can photo- 
graph an image in a mirror — which is composed simply 
of vibrations, and reflected vibrations at that ! We are 
a long way from the tangible thing, in such a case ; and 
yet we are enabled to photograph it with an ordinary 
camera. Any disturbance in the ether we should be 
enabled to photograph likewise — if only we had delicate 
enough instruments, and if the "conditions" for the 
experiment were favourable. The phenomena of spirit- 
photography, and especially the experiments of Dr. 
Baraduc, to which I shall presently refer, would seem 
to indicate this. 

These experiments, as well as those that are about to 
follow, gain greater credibility when considered in the 
light of the newer experimental researches in physics, 
which demonstrate, apparently, that matter can be made 
to disintegrate and disappear, and can be again re- 
formed from invisible vortices in the ether into suffi- 
ciently solid bodies to be photographed by the sensitive 
plate. In his remarkable work, The Evolution of Mat- 
ter, Dr. Gustave Le Bon has devoted a whole section 
of his argument to what he has denominated "the de- 
materialization of matter." He proves by experiments 
in the physical laboratory that matter can dissociate, 



PSYCHIC PHOTOGRAPHY 163 

and vanish into apparent nothingness. What really 
takes place, however, is that the solid matter, as we 
have been accustomed to conceive it, is resolved into its 
finer constituent parts — not only into the material atoms 
of which it is composed, but these atoms are in turn 
dissociated and resolved into a series of etheric vortices, 
invisible to normal sense perception. Apparently, there- 
fore, matter has ceased to be, as such; and, in fact, it 
has been resolved into energy ! Conversely, Dr. Le Bon 
proved that, by producing artificial equilibria of the 
elements arising from the dissociation of matter, he could 
succeed in creating, with immaterial particles, "some- 
thing singularly resembling matter." These equilibria 
were maintained a sufficient length of time to enable 
them to be photographed. 

On p. 164 of Dr. Le Bon's Evolution of Matter, are to 
be found photographs of what is practically materialized 
matter. This author says, in part: — 

"Such equilibria can only be maintained for a mo- 
ment. If we were able to isolate and fix them for good 
— that is to say, so that they would survive their gen- 
erating cause — we should have succeeded in creating 
with immaterial particles something singularly resem- 
bling matter. The enormous quantity of energy con- 
densed within the atom shows the impossibility of real- 
izing such an experiment. But, if we cannot with 
immaterial things effect equilibria, able to survive the 
cause which gave them birth, we can at least maintain 
them for a sufficiently long time to photograph them, and 
thus create a sort of momentary materialization. ' ' 

If, therefore, physical science now admits, as it does, 



164 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

that vibrations, or disturbances in the ether, can be 
photographed, there is no longer any a priori objection 
to these experiments by Dr. Baraduc — which claim, 
merely, that similar vibrations have been photographed 
— such vibrations being the external modification or im- 
pression left upon the ether by the causal thought. 

So much for theoretical possibilities: now for the 
facts. 

In a remarkable little booklet, entitled, Unseen Faces 
Photographed, Dr. H. A. Reid has presented a number 
of cases of supposed spirit photography, some of which 
are certainly difficult to account for by any theory of 
fraud. It is true that the methods of imitating this 
process by fraudulent means are numerous and in- 
genious; but practically none of them are unknown. 
In The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism, pp. 206- 
23, I have described these fraudulent methods in con- 
siderable detail; and have also published an account of 
a case in which trickery was actually detected in the 
process of operation. (See Proceedings of the Ameri- 
can S.P.B., 1908, vol. ii., pp. 10-13.) But there seem 
to be certain cases on record that are most difficult to 
account for by any theory of trickery — partly because 
of the excellence of the conditions, and partly because 
of the character of the experimenter. Let us glance at 
one or two of the cases in which the character of the 
experimenter would seem to insure the fact that no 
conscious and voluntary fraud was practised. A re- 
sume of a few such cases is to be found in Mr. Edward 
T. Bennett's little book on Spiritualism, pp. 113-20. 1 
I quote in part : — 

iT. C. and E. C. Jack, Edinburgh. 



PSYCHIC PHOTOGRAPHY 165 

"The most notable exception to this (rule of fraud) 
which I am able to quote is that of the late Mr. J. Traill 
Taylor, who was for a considerable time the editor of 
the British Journal of Photography. The following 
quotations are from a paper on 'Spirit Photography' by 
Mr. Taylor. It was originally read before the London 
and Provincial Photographic Association in March, 1893, 
and was reprinted in the British Journal of Photography 
for March 26th, 1904, shortly after Mr. Taylor's death. 
He says: — 

" 'Spirit photography, so called, has of late been 
asserting its existence in such a manner and to such an 
extent as to warrant competent men in making an in- 
vestigation, conducted under stringent test conditions, 
into the circumstances under which such photographs 
are produced, and exposing the fraud should it prove 
to be such, instead of pooh-poohing it as insensate be- 
cause we do not understand how it can be otherwise — a 
position that scarcely commends itself as intelligent or 
philosophical. If, in what follows, I call it ' ' spirit pho- 
tography," instead of psychic photography, it is only 
in deference to a nomenclature that extensively pre- 
vails. ... I approach the subject merely as a photog- 
rapher. ' 

"Mr. Taylor then gives a history of the earlier mani- 
festations of spirit photography, and goes on to explain 
how striking phenomena in photographing what is in- 
visible to the eye may be produced by the agency of 
florescence. He quotes the demonstration of Dr. Glad- 
stone, F.R.S., at the Bradford meeting of the British 
Association in 1873, showing that invisible drawings on 
white cards have produced bold and clear photographs 



166 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

when no eye could see the drawings themselves. Hence, 
as Mr. Taylor says : ' The photographing of an invisible 
image is not scientifically impossible.' 

"Mr. Taylor then proceeds to describe some personal 
experiments. He says: 'For several years I have ex- 
perienced a strong desire to ascertain by personal inves- 
tigation the amount of truth in the ever-recurring alle- 
gation that figures, other than those visually present in 
the room, appeared on the sensitive plate. . . . Mr. D., 
of Glasgow, in whose presence psychic photographs have 
long been alleged to be obtained, was lately in London 
on a visit, and a mutual friend got him to consent to 
extend his stay in order that I might try to get a psychic 
photograph under test conditions. To this he willingly 
agreed. My conditions were exceedingly simple, were 
courteously expressed to the host, and entirely acquiesced 
in. They were that I, for the nonce, would assume them 
all to be tricksters, and, to guard against fraud, should 
use my own camera and unopened packages of dry 
plates purchased from dealers of repute, and that I 
should be excused from allowing a plate to go out of 
my own hand till after development, unless I felt other- 
wise disposed ; but that as I was to treat them as under 
suspicion, so must they treat me, and that every act I 
performed must be in the presence of two witnesses; 
nay, that I would set a watch upon my own camera in 
the guise of a duplicate one of the same focus — in other 
words, I would use a binocular stereoscopic camera and 
dictate all the conditions of operation. . . . 

" 'Dr. G. was the first sitter, and, for a reason known 
to myself, I used a monocular camera. I myself took 
the plate out of a packet just previously ripped up, un- 



PSYCHIC PHOTOGRAPHY 167 

der the surveillance of my two detectives. I placed 
the slide in my pocket and exposed it by magnesium 
ribbon which I held in my own hand, keeping one eye, 
as it were, on the sitter, and the other on the camera. 
There was no background. I myself took the plate from 
the dark slide, and, under the eyes of the two detectives, 
placed it in the developing dish. Between the camera 
and the sitter a female figure was developed, rather in a 
more pronounced form than that of the sitter. ... I 
submit this picture. ... I do not recognize her, or 
any of the other figures I obtained, as like any one I 
know. . . . 

' ' ' Many experiments of like nature followed ; on some 
plates were abnormal appearances, on others none. All 
this time Mr. ~D., the medium, during the exposure of the 
plates, was quite inactive. ... 

" 'The psychic figures behaved badly. Some were in 
focus, others not so. Some were lighted from the right, 
while the sitter was from the left ; some were comely 
. . . others not so. Some monopolized the major portion 
of the plate, quite obliterating the material sitters. 
. . . But here is the point: Not one of these figures 
which came out so strongly in the negative was visible 
in any form or shape to me during the time of exposure 
in the camera, and I vouch in the strongest manner for 
the fact that no one whatever had an opportunity of 
tampering with any plate anterior to its being placed 
in the dark slide or immediately preceding develop- 
ment. Pictorially they are vile, but how came they 
there? 

" 'Now, all this time I imagine you are wondering 
how the stereoscopic camera was behaving itself as such. 



168 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

It is due to the psychic entities to say that whatever was 
produced on one-half of the stereoscopic plates was pro- 
duced on the other — alike good or bad in definition. 
But, on a careful examination of one which was rather 
better than the other ... I deduce this fact, that the 
impressing of the spirit form was not simultaneous with 
that of the sitter. . . . This I consider an important 
discovery. I carefully examined one in the stereoscope 
and found that, while the two sitters were stereoscopic 
per se, the psychic figure was absolutely flat! I also 
found that the psychic figure was at least a millimetre 
higher up in one than in the other. Now, as both had 
been simultaneously exposed, it follows to demonstra- 
tion that, although both were correctly placed, vertically 
in relation to that particular sitter, behind whom the 
figure appeared, and not so horizontally, this figure 
had not only not been impressed on the plate simul- 
taneously with the two gentlemen forming the group, 
but had not been formed by the lens at all, and that, 
therefore, the psychic image might be produced without 
a camera. I think this is a fair deduction. But still 
the question obtrudes: How came these figures there? 
I again assert that the plates were not tampered with 
by either myself or any one present. Are they crys- 
tallizations of thought? Have lens and light really 
nothing to do with their formation? The whole subject 
was mysterious enough on the hypothesis of an invisible 
spirit — whether a thought projection or an actual spirit, 
being really there in the vicinity of the sitter — but it is 
now a thousand times more so. . . . 

" 'In the foregoing I have confined myself as closely 
as possible to narrating how I conducted a photographic 



PSYCHIC PHOTOGRAPHY 169 

experiment open to every one to make, avoiding stating 
any hypothesis or belief of my own on the subject.' " 

Let us now return to some later experiments in psychic 
photography. Two small photographs, one showing a 
face, the other a series of small starlike markings, were 
sent to me by a member of the Society for the Study 
of Psychic Photography, of England. Writing of these 
prints, my correspondent says: 

"A week or so ago we distributed one hundred and 
ten strips of sensitive film, in light-tight packages, for 
friends of the members to 'wear.' This was done with 
the idea of ascertaining approximately what percentage 
of individuals possessed this gift. We agreed that the 
films should be carried about for a week, and where 
possible worn round the forehead at night. The experi- 
ment proved more successful than we had anticipated, 
since six out of the one hundred and ten films were 
more or less affected. The two best results are those 
shown on the prints enclosed herewith." (Not shown.) 

These results are quite in keeping with some that have 
lately been obtained in California. In a recent com- 
munication which I have received from Mr. Vincent 
Jones, Vice-President of the California Psychical Re- 
search Society, — under whose auspices the experiment 
was undertaken — he says: — 

' ' Then we tried thought-photography. I bought some 
ordinary plates, which were opened in the dark-room 
of an X-ray laboratory. The plate was inclosed within 
an envelope of opaque black paper and this in another 



170 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

envelope. It was then suspended about twelve inches 
in front of the eyes of the sitting experimenter. . . . 

"This experimenter first wrote down on a slip of 
paper the thing he was going to concentrate on, folded 
it and handed it to a committee. Then he sat and con- 
centrated for ten minutes. The plate was then de- 
veloped, and contained the image, clear and strong 
and unmistakable, of a cross. This proved to be the 
subject handed to the committee." (See Fig. 3.) 

In view of the remarkable character of this experiment 
— as well as its importance, and taking into account the 
apparently excellent conditions under which the test 
was made, I wrote to Mr. Jones, asking him to be kind 
enough to secure, if possible, the statements of any addi- 
tional witnesses who might have been present on this 
occasion, and he sent me, in response to this request, the 
following affidavit, signed by five of the witnesses who 
were present at the time : 

California Psychical Research Society, 

San Francisco, Calif., Nov. 3, 1920. 
Dr. Hereward Carrington. 
504 West 111th St. 
New York City. 
Dear Dr. Carrington. 

Enclosed is the print I promised you of the ' ' Thought 
Photograph" taken by a Committee composed in part of 
members of the Council of the California Psychical Re- 
search Society, in May, 1919. The conditions were as 
follows: I purchased at Hirsch & Kaye, opticians and 
photo-supplies, a box of one dozen ordinary rapid Seed 
plates. I took the box unopened to the Committee 




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PSYCHIC PHOTOGRAPHY 171 

meeting, which was held at the X-Ray Laboratory of 
Preston & Huppert in this city. Mr. Henry Huppert, 
Dr. Frank Collins, Dr. Cecil Nixon and myself went into 
the dark room, where Mr. Huppert opened the box of 
plates, took one at random from the centre of the pack- 
age, enclosed it inside an opaque black envelope, and this 
again inside another yellow envelope and sealed it. 
This was taken outside and suspended about 12 inches 
in front of our subject, who was seated and had pre- 
viously written down what he would concentrate upon, 
and handed the memo to Dr. Collins. The subject drew 
a rough outline of the object of his concentration, 
gazed fixedly upon it for about 5 minutes, then put it 
aside and for ten minutes concentrated upon the plate 
without touching the same. The plate was immediately 
taken into the dark room and developed, and the image 
of the cross developed at once, clear and strong. One 
of the Committee was in the room with the subject dur- 
ing the whole time, and there was no opportunity for 
any tampering with the plate. The object developed 
proved to be the one previously written down and handed 
to Dr. Collins. 

Yours very truly, 

Vincent Jones, 
Frank T. Collins, D.O., 
J. C. Anthony, M.D., 
Cecil E. Nixon, D.O.S., 
Henry K. Huppert. 

Supplementing this formal report, Mr. Vincent Jones 
sent me the following letter, in answer to my questions, 
which I also quote : — 



172 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

San Francisco, Calif., Nov. 10, 1920. 
Dr. Hereward Carrington. 
504 West 111th St. 
New York City. 
Dear Dr. Carrington. 

Here is the signed statement I promised you, and 
the better print of the cross photo. The others who were 
present at the experiments are not where I can reach 
them at present, but the five whose signatures are ap- 
pended to the accompanying statement are the best- 
known of the eight who were present, — men whose tes- 
timony in a court of law would be accepted without 
question. Dr. Frank Collins is, or was, President of the 
Osteopaths' Association, a Spiritualist, student of As- 
trology and mystical subjects, and a member of the 
Council of the California Psychical Research Society. 
Dr. J. C. Anthony is a well and favorably known phy- 
sician, who has practised here for many years, also a 
member of our Council. Dr. Cecil E. Nixon is a Den- 
tist, best known as a Magician, and as the inventor of 
"Isis," a wonderful automaton which plays any tune 
you request of her on the zither. Mr. Henry Huppert 
is one of the partners in the Preston-Huppert X-Ray 
Laboratory, a man with scientific training and a student 
of the Occult. 

Such a thing as substitution by the subject of an- 
other plate for the one we suspended before him was 
out of the question for two reasons. First, he was not 
left alone. Second, he did not know in advance just 
what was to be the nature of our experiment. "When 
Mr. Huppert broke the seal on the box of plates, in the 
presence of the Committee of four, in the dark room, 



PSYCHIC PHOTOGRAPHY 173 

and selected one at random from the centre of the box, 
and enclosed it in the two envelopes, he not only sealed 
the envelopes but marked the envelopes, so that he 
would know if they had been tampered with. They 
could not have been opened without destroying these 
marks. Furthermore, in the room where the experi- 
ment was conducted, there was an ordinary electric light 
burning, and no substitution could have been made 
without affecting the plate. It could not have been 
possible that the subject, being previously unaware of 
the exact nature of the contemplated experiment, could 
have provided himself with plates of the same size and 
envelopes of two colours and of identically the same 
paper as those used in the X-Ray Laboratory. If any- 
thing happened to the plate it happened through the 
paper of the envelopes. But, as I have said, one of the 
committee was in the room during the whole experi- 
ment. The sole possibility of fraud was for the sub- 
ject to have come prepared with a cross painted with 
radio-active paint, and to have held this against the 
envelopes whilst the Committee was off its guard. But 
the character of the subject is sufficient guarantee to 
all of us that such was not the case. I admit that to 
those who do not know him, this would furnish no guar- 
antee, and that for this reason we should have taken 

EVEN MORE STRINGENT PRECAUTIONS. HAD WE KNOWN 
THAT SUCH A RESULT WAS TO BE OBTAINED WE PROBABLY 
WOULD HAVE DONE THIS, BUT WE WERE JUST A COMPANY 
OP FRIENDS WHO HAD GATHERED TO TRY WHAT WE MIGHT 
ACCOMPLISH, AFTER HAVING READ OF COLONEL de ROCHAS' 
EXPERIMENTS ALONG THIS LINE. We TRUSTED ONE AN- 
OTHER, AND SO IT IS BARELY POSSIBLE THAT FOR A MOMENT 



174 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

SOME ONE WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO BE WATCHING THE SUB- 
JECT WAS OFF HIS GUARD. THEREIN LIES THE SOLE POSSI- 
BILITY OF FRAUD IN THIS RESULT, AND, AS I SAID, THIS IS 
OUT OF THE QUESTION WITH US WHO KNOW THE CHARAC- 
TER OF THE SUBJECT. 

Yours very truly, 

Vincent Jones, 
215 Balboa Bldg. 

P. S. The reason we were not all in the room with 
the subject during the trial was that we were trying to 
do the same thing ourselves. I was concentrating upon 
a V, with a film on my forehead, and the others were 
trying it either with film or plate. Only one other se- 
cured anything at all, and that was but a blur. Our 
subject who did get the Cross result is a very highly 
developed mystic with remarkable powers of concentra- 
tion, but modest about his powers and for that reason, 
and because he is extremely busy, we have not been able 
to repeat the experiment with him since. V. J. 

As might be expected, many of these "psychic pho- 
tographs" take on the characteristics of "spirit-pho- 
tographs," in that they show definitely recognizable 
forms. This is especially true of a number of psychic 
photographs which were recently taken at Crewe, Eng- 
land, in the presence of two nonprofessional mediums, 
who have, nevertheless, obtained hundreds of successful 
photographs in this manner. Regarding their experi- 
ments, a correspondent writes me: 

"They are not professionals and charge no fee. A 
nominal charge is made for prints. ... I do not know 



PSYCHIC PHOTOGRAPHY 175 

of any one who has sat with the Crewe circle who has 
not been satisfied that fraud, at any rate, will not ex- 
plain these things. Those who have not been and who 
know nothing of the subject, say just the opposite. . . . 
Many of the results in themselves rule out faking. I 
have had many sittings with these mediums and have 
not the slightest doubt whatever regarding their abso- 
lute genuineness. In fact, in some of the tests I have 
carried out with them, faking would have been quite im- 
possible, even had they been desirous of tricking. I 
speak as an amateur photographer of many years' stand- 
ing, in touch with photography every working day of 
his life." 

Several photographs obtained at this now-famous 
Crewe circle are reproduced herewith. Certainly it is 
true that such photographs might be obtained by means 
of double exposure, double printing and other devices; 
but the point is that we have the word of an expert 
photographer that they were not produced in this man- 
ner; and when once their genuine character is admitted, 
they assume very great interest, no matter what view 
we may care to take as to the results. 

Miss Estelle Stead, daughter of the late W. T. Stead, 
writing of her experiences with this same group of 
psychics, says: 

"I have several times, since he passed on, obtained 
photos of my father on the same plate I took with me, 
under the most rigid test-conditions — on plates which 
I have never let out of my sight, save for the few mo- 
ments they were in the camera for my photo to be 
taken. 



176 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

"I also obtained a splendid photo of my brother, 
who passed over in 1907. He promised that before I 
went for the sitting he would be photographed instead 
of Father, if he could manage it. I said nothing of 
this to the lady who sat with me for the photograph 
to be taken, or to the photographer. I put my own 
marked plate in the slide myself, and stood by while it 
was developed. My brother's face appeared quite as 
plainly as mine, and has been recognized by many who 
knew him in life. He was seldom photographed while 
here, and certainly never with his head in exactly the 
position it is in this photograph, received nine years 
after his death. 

"It is only natural that those who have passed over 
in the war should, when conditions allow, use this means 
of establishing their identity, and many have done so 
successfully! One case of particular interest is that of 
a boy who was blown to pieces in France last year. 
His mother wrote in great distress to a friend in Edin- 
burgh stating that the boy had been killed. This friend 
had not seen the boy since his school-days, but being 
interested in spiritualism, and able to get in touch with 
those on the 'other side,' she asked her father, who had 
passed over, if it would be possible for the boy to be 
photographed. He said it was doubtful, but they would 
do their best. She therefore made arrangements to have 
a sitting with the Crewe mediums, who possess this 
power which enables those on the other side to manifest 
sufficiently to be photographed. 

"Two plates were exposed, and on one side, beside 
the photo of the lady herself, there is an unmistakable 
photo of the boy. I have seen it, and a photo of the 





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PSYCHIC PHOTOGRAPHY 177 

boy taken before lie went to France, and there is no mis- 
taking the likeness. She sent the pictures to his par- 
ents, who before this had not been believers in the pos- 
sibility of communication with those who have passed 
on — with the result that they are now convinced of it, 
and have received several comforting and assuring mes- 
sages from their boy." 

"We see how imperceptibly ordinary psychic photo- 
graphs shade off into those more definitely spiritistic in 
character. This is true in nearly all phenomena in this 
realm. It is hard to draw any hard-and-fast line, and 
say: "This is due to powers within our own being, and 
this is due to external spiritual beings!" They merge 
one into the other so gradually that it is extremely diffi- 
cult to draw any line of demarcation between the two. 

Certainly some of these photographs are due to the 
thoughts or other psychic activities of the sitter. Thus 
we can hardly suppose that the "spirits" of bottles, 
walking-sticks and eagles (as in Darget's experiments) 
were actually present, and that they impressed them- 
selves upon the photographic plate! Again, some pic- 
tures show us a definite face, which we cannot attribute 
to any outside influence. The experimenter merely 
thought of the face, and it appeared upon the plate. 
This being so, how can we ever obtain proof that the 
forms and faces which appear upon photographic plates 
are those of discarnate spirits, — even though they ap- 
pear and are recognized, — since we know that mental 
images or memories of faces have been photographed 
in just this manner? 

That is indeed a difficult problem : it is very like that 



178 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

which confronts us in the case of any good trance- 
medium. Inasmuch as telepathy is a fact, and the me- 
dium almost certainly derives some of the facts from 
one 's mind, or from the minds of other living people, how 
can we ever prove "survival" — the actual communica- 
tion of our spirit friends? 

We can only apply the same sort of tests in the one 
case as in the other. We must discount all those facts 
which might possibly have been obtained normally, or 
by telepathy, and pin our faith on those which could 
not possibly, or conceivably, have been obtained in this 
way. Similarly, we must assume that all psychic pho- 
tographs represent normal markings upon the plates, or 
the emotions or thoughts of the sitter, or the vital radia- 
tions issuing from his body, until indisputable proof to 
the contrary be forthcoming. (It may be added that 
some very striking evidence of identity has been ob- 
tained in this manner, from time to time in the past, 
and is now being obtained in various circles both in 
this country and abroad.) 

Regarding these "vital radiations" issuing from the 
body, a number of interesting experiments were under- 
taken in this connection in Poland, Paris and elsewhere. 
M. Durville obtained imprints of hands, from which 
emanated streaks of light, as though the hands were 
radio-active ; indeed in no other way can we account for 
these results. 

I next present a remarkable series of photographs, 
kindly lent to me by Lady Glenconner, — to whom I am 
indebted for permission to reproduce them. These pho- 
tographs were taken at the ' ' Crewe Circle, ' ' in the pres- 
ence of Mr. Hope, the medium. Personally, I have never 





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PSYCHIC PHOTOGRAPHY 179 

had the opportunity to attend a Crewe seance, and hence 
cannot speak of the evidential value of these pictures 
from first-hand evidence. All I can say is that Mr. 
Hope is not a professional ' ' medium, ' ' in the usual sense 
of the term, since he receives no payment for his serv- 
ices; that no evidence of fraud, in connection with his 
photographs, has ever been forthcoming; and that rigid 
test conditions have, apparently, been enforced on a 
number of occasions, when successful "extras" were ob- 
tained upon the plates. In practically all the cases 
known to me, the sitters provided their own marked 
plates, placed them in the camera themselves, took them 
out themselves, and developed them themselves. Such, 
I understand, were the conditions under which the ac- 
companying photographs were obtained. All that Mr. 
Hope does is to place his (opened) hands upon the plate- 
holders, after the plates have been inserted therein, and 
before these are placed in the camera. It is during this 
period that the psychic "extras," appearing upon the 
plates, are thought to appear; or at all events it is this 
"magnetizing" of the plates which renders them sus- 
ceptible to impressions which would not be recorded 
upon ordinary plates. How far this belief of the sitters 
coincides with the actual facts of course I cannot say. 

The first photograph shows us Lady Glenconner, 
seated, with a clearly-defined face over her right arm. 
This face is enshrouded in the same curious mist-like 
"clothing,"' common to "spirit" photographs, and ma- 
terialized forms, and especially evident in all the Crewe 
pictures. The face is, I understand, recognizable as 
that of a lost friend. (Fig. 4.) 

The second photograph is one of Lady Glenconner 



180 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

and her son, — a faint, whitish mist appearing over (or 
on) her left shoulder. This is interesting for the rea- 
son that, some time before this picture was taken, a 
''spirit" had announced through another medium in 
London that he would appear in one of Hope's photo- 
graphs and place his hand on her left shoulder. Within 
the whitish mist-like mass, a hand and arm are clearly 
distinguishable, upon close examination. (Fig. 5.) In 
photograph number 6 (with a different sitter) the double 
impression of a face is clearly seen, almost obliterating 
the face of the sitter. These faces appear sideways, 
and represent a woman's face, — wearing glasses! 
This same woman's face appears in the next picture 
(No. 7) no less than three times; the uppermost face 
is the clearest, the one to the right next best, while 
the lowermost "face" is little more than a misty im- 
pression, — in which, however, the eyes are quite clear. 
This photograph is, on any theory, it seems to me, a 
very striking and suggestive one, and seems to indicate 
that the "spirit" attempted three different times to 
appear and impress the plate, with the greatest strength 
the first time, and with gradually diminishing energy or 
power thereafter. This, at least, is the appearance of 
the facts, and such an interpretation is, it may be said, 
in strict conformity with the statements made through 
Mrs. Piper, and other reliable mediums, as to the diffi- 
culties actually experienced, in attempting to "commu- 
nicate. ' ' To my mind, — though I do not know the pre- 
cise conditions under which the picture was obtained — 
this is a most suggestive and remarkable photograph, 
strongly indicative of the spiritistic theory. 





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PSYCHIC PHOTOGRAPHY 181 

In the next illustration (No. 8), a white cloud ap- 
pears over the sitter's head. There are traces of two 
"faces" in this cloud, but they are too uncertain to be 
emphasized. In the next picture, however (No. 9), a 
face, clearly visible, and enveloped in the usual white 
mist-like drapery, appears. It is to be noted that the 
"face" is, in this case, about twice the size of the 
sitters' heads, as though the "extra" were much nearer 
the camera. It is, however, still in focus! 

Photograph No. 10 shows us Lady Glenconner, and 
upon the plate a number of "extras" appearing at va- 
rious "angles" in relation to the sitter's head — some of 
them at right angles, some of them upside down, etc. 
(The "cracks" are merely defects upon the plate.) 
Upon examination, it will be seen that all these faces 
represent one man, who, apparently, has made a number 
of separate attempts to "appear" at this sitting. An 
enlargement of this face is given in photograph No. 11, 
where the features are quite distinguishable. There 
are several peculiarities about this face, however, which 
a closer examination will reveal. The enormous left 
ear is one of these — mal-formed, or as though in the 
process of formation. The right side of the head, on 
the other hand, is partly enveloped in a whitish cloud, 
through which the outline of the face is faintly percep- 
tible. Further impressions of this same face are shown 
in photograph No. 12, when several "impressions" were 
again obtained, all clearly recognizable. In the right- 
hand photograph, the whitish mass seems to have been 
just removed from about the head, and it will be seen 
that part of this still remains, like a thin veil, in front 



182 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

of the lower part of the face (under the eyes) and up 
the left-hand side of the head. This, to me, is a very 
curious circumstance. 

Having thus ' ' cleared the ground, " so to speak, let us 
now consider the more startling statements and experi- 
ments by Dr. Baraduc, summarized by him in his work, 
'Mes Morts; leurs Manifestations, etc., later on in the 
account. 

At a quarter-past nine, on a certain memorable day in 
April, 1907, died Andre M. Joseph Baraduc, at the age 
of nineteen years. Throughout his life there had been 
a close bond of affection between himself and his fa- 
ther, and we are assured that during the lifetime of the 
son, telepathic communication had been frequent be- 
tween them. When he was but nineteen it was discov- 
ered that Andre was suffering from that dread disease, 
consumption; and henceforward he grew rapidly worse, 
dying within the year. Toward the close of this year 
he made two visits to Lourdes, without, however, re- 
ceiving much benefit in either case, and returning ap- 
parently without augmented faith in the cures brought 
about at that centre. Andre was exceedingly religious 
in temperament, as was his father, and both were given 
to experiments in psychic research. We are informed 
that, during the lifetime of the son, his "astral" form 
had been experimentally separated from his bodily 
frame on more than one occasion. It was only natural 
to suppose, therefore, that, at the death of this favour- 
ite son, the father's grief should be so intense that the 
emotional reflex found expression in various visions 
and apparent conversations with the dead boy. For 



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PSYCHIC PHOTOGRAPHY 183 

within six hours after the death of Andre, the son ap- 
peared to his father, and thenceforth many apparitions 
were seen, and several long conversations were appar- 
ently held between father and son. Of course, these 
in themselves would, under the circumstances, have no 
evidential value, since it is only natural to suppose that 
hallucinations, both of sight and hearing, would result 
in a mind so wrought. 

These subjective and apparently telepathic experiences 
of Dr. Baraduc cannot, therefore, be considered of value ; 
but the objective experiences — that is to say, the expe- 
riments performed by him are of great interest, since 
one can hardly suppose that the camera can be halluci- 
nated, because of the grief of the photographer! The 
impressions left upon the plates, then, such as they are, 
have their evidential and scientific value, and it is to 
a consideration of these photographs that we now turn. 

Nine hours after the death of Andre, Dr. Baraduc 
took the first photograph of the coffin in which the body 
was deposited. When this plate was developed, it was 
discovered that, emanating from the coffin, was a form- 
less, misty, wave-like mass, radiating in all directions 
with considerable force, impinging upon the bodies of 
those who came into close proximity to the coffin, as 
though attracted to them by some magnetic force. On 
one occasion, indeed, the force of this projected fluidic 
emanation was so great that Dr. Baraduc received an 
electric shock from head to foot, which produced a tem- 
porary vertigo. Emerging from the body are dark, tree- 
shaped emanations, issuing in formal lines, which grad- 
ually diverge, and become more and more attenuated 
and misty as they recede further and further from the 



184 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

body. Although this photograph 1 does not in itself 
prove anything supernormal, it is highly suggestive, and 
it aroused Dr. Baraduc's interest in the subject, and en- 
abled him to pursue his more conclusive experiments 
immediately upon the death of his wife. (Figs. 13, 14.) 

Six months after the death of Andre, Nadine, Dr. 
Baraduc's wife and the mother of Andre, passed quietly 
away, giving vent, at the moment of her death, to "three 
gentle sighs." Remembering the result of the former 
experiments (photographing the body of Andre shortly 
after his death), Dr. Baraduc had prepared a camera 
beside the bed of his wife, and, at the moment of her 
death, photographed the body, and shortly after de- 
veloped the plate. Upon it were found three luminous 
globes resting a few inches above the body. These 
gradually condensed and became more brilliant. 
Streaks of light, like fine threads, were also seen dart- 
ing hither and thither. A quarter of an hour after the 
death of his wife, Dr. Baraduc took another photograph. 
Fluidic cords were seen to have developed, partly encir- 
cling these globes of light. At three o'clock in the 
afternoon, or an hour after her death, another photo- 
graph was taken. It will be seen from this photograph 
that the three globes of light have condensed and coa- 
lesced into one, obscuring the head of Madame Baraduc, 
and developing towards the right. Cords were formed 
in the shape of a figure eight, closed at the top, and 
opened at the point nearest the body. Thus, as the 
globe develops in one direction, the cords seem to be- 
come more tense, and pull in the opposite direction. 
The separation becomes more and more complete, until 

i Not reproduced here. 




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'Photographs op the Soul" (13, 14) 



PSYCHIC PHOTOGRAPHY 185 

finally, three and a half hours after death, a well-formed 
globe rested above the body, apparently held together 
by the encircling, luminous cords, which seemed also 
to guide and control it. At this moment, the globe be- 
comes separated from the body, and, guided by the 
cords, floats into Dr. Baraduc's bedroom. He speaks 
to the globe intensely; the globe thereupon approaches 
him, and he feels an icy cold breeze, which seems to 
surround and issue from the ball of light. It then floats 
away and disappears. 

Frequently, within the next few days after these ex- 
periments, Dr. Baraduc saw similar globes in various 
parts of the house. By means of automatic writing, 
obtained through the hand of a non-professional psychic, 
he succeeded at last in establishing communication with 
this luminous ball, and was informed that it was the 
encasement of Madame Baraduc's soul, which was still 
active and alive within it ! It was asserted that, as the 
days progressed, the encircling cords were one by one 
snapped, and that the spirit more nearly assumed the 
astral body facsimile of the earthly body. Andre, how- 
ever, was seen by him to be a completely developed astral 
body; and his wife asserted that she too would shortly 
take her place beside Andre in her permanent form. 
As further photographs were not developed, however, 
there is no experimental evidence confirming these state- 
ments. 

Although these initial experiments of Dr. Baraduc 
cannot, of themselves, be considered conclusive, they are 
nevertheless highly interesting, and should lead to fur- 
ther research in the same direction. The evidence af- 
forded by apparitions, single and collective ; by haunted 



186 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

houses; the indirect testimony afforded by the apparent 
psychic perception by animals; the evidence, such as it 
is, for "spirit photography"; the recent experiments in 
thought-photography, and the photographs made at the 
seances of Eusapia Palladino, all tend to confirm, it 
seems to me, the conclusions arrived at by Dr. Baraduc, 
as the result of his preliminary researches. If an astral 
body of some sort exists, it must occupy space; and, 
being space-occupying, must, a priori, be material enough 
to occupy it ! "Whether or not this material is suffi- 
ciently solid to reflect light waves, and make an im- 
pression upon the sensitive plate of the camera, is an 
aspect of the problem still open to debate. 

Further indirect testimony is afforded by the state- 
ments of clairvoyants, and by the direct testimony (tak- 
ing it for what it is worth) of so-called "spirits" who 
communicate their sensations and the knowledge they 
have gained after bodily death. They invariably assert 
that there is an astral facsimile, or spiritual replica, of 
the physical body. Repellent as the idea may be to 
some of a semi-material, space-occupying soul, the facts 
would seem to indicate that such is true. Yet there 
might be a way out of the difficulty, since we might still 
suppose that the soul, or seat of consciousness, exists 
as a point of force within this spiritual organism. 
Whichever theory is ultimately proved correct cannot, 
of course, be settled by a priori speculation, but by 
facts; and such experiments as those conducted by Dr. 
Baraduc in "photographing the soul" are, perhaps, the 
best line of investigation to follow, and one from which, 
— with the improvements in photography, — the most is 
to be hoped. 



PSYCHIC PHOTOGRAPHY 187 

The reader now has the facts before him. I have 
no theory to offer as to the nature of these photographs, 
save that they appear to me to be genuine and super- 
normal from all the evidence and testimony that I have 
been enabled to obtain. In my Physical Phenomena of 
Spiritualism I have explained a number of ways in which 
fraudulent "spirit" photographs can be obtained; 
and in Modem Psychical Phenomena I reproduced a 
number of photographs which seemed to me to be sup- 
ported by excellent testimony, and which were, so far 
as I could see, genuine psychic photographs. In that 
volume I also discussed the various theories which have 
been advanced in the past to explain these extraordinary 
photographs. The present collection is intended merely 
to supplement the former, and to present a number of 
photographs the solution for which is, it seems to me, 
yet to be found. 



CHAPTER VII 

HALLUCINATION AND THE PHYSICAL 
PHENOMENA OF SPIRITUALISM 1 

The discussion begun by Count Solovovo, and continued 
by Miss Johnson, 2 is assuredly of supreme importance 
to psychical research. Whether or no many of the 
alleged "physical phenomena" are genuine, or whether 
they are merely hallucinatory in character, is a ques- 
tion which involves — not only the phenomena them- 

i The chapter which follows originally appeared in the Journal 
of the American S.P.R. (December 1909), and was critical of the 
articles of Miss Alice Johnson and Count Solovovo, which had 
previously appeared in the English Proceedings. While the chap- 
ter is self-explanatory, it may be well to say that Count Solo- 
vovo, in his original paper, considered the "hallucination theory" 
as a possible explanation of certain physical phenomena — such as 
those of D. D. Home — and, after a lengthy discussion, came to 
the conclusion that it would be extremely difficult to believe that 
hallucination could account for all the observed facts. Miss 
Johnson, in her reply, inclined rather more to the hallucination 
theory — at least in some cases — and endeavoured to show how 
it might have occurred on several occasions. My paper is critical 
of these articles — chiefly Miss Johnson's; and I have here en- 
deavoured to combat the hallucination theory, — which I do not 
believe to have nearly so wide a range as Miss Johnson sup- 
poses. The interested reader is referred to the original papers, 
as well as to the discussion which follows; after which he may 
decide for himself which seems to him the more rational ex- 
planation of the facts. 

2 Proceedings, 8.P.R., vol. xxi. pp. 436-515. 

188 



PHENOMENA OF SPIRITUALISM 189 

selves, but psychology and human life in general, and 
even influences strongly science and scientific experi- 
ments in other fields . . . The senses are to be relied 
upon in every science other than psychic research ; that 
seems to be the dictum of the world, and strange and 
even absurd as it may seem, it is, as we know, more or 
less founded upon fact. In no other science is fraud 
practised as it is in this ; in practically no other line of 
research are the mental and physical powers so strained 
out of their usual or normal relations and perceptions 
as they are in this. It is only right, then, that Caution 
should be the password, and should be most rigidly em- 
ployed in all such investigations as these. 

While admitting all this, however, one must also ad- 
mit that it is easy to go too far in the opposite direction, 
and reject evidence which depends upon the senses 
simply because they depend upon them. This, I think, 
is invalid reasoning. No one would be more willing 
than I to admit their fallibility and untrustworthiness 
— especially when we are dealing with conditions and 
phenomena where mal-observation is possible; but I do 
not think that any negative conclusion can be drawn 
from this. The case is still an open one; nothing is 
proved, one way or the other, and, in such work as ours, 
proof — and not mere conjecture — must be forthcoming. 
Very true it is that proof of the sort desired is often 
impossible; but it is obtained sometimes. If a medium 
be caught masquerading in a white muslin "robe" and 
a mask, we are doubtless within our rights in saying 
that the medium has been proved a fraud. But failure 
to detect such trickery does not prove the phenomena 
genuine. That would depend upon other considera- 



190 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

tions, and would only raise a presumption in favour of 
their authenticity. In such a case, "proof" is largely 
a question of relative probability, and can be obtained 
only by making the probability in favour of the reality 
of the phenomena so strong that the negative aspect is 
rendered logically unsound by the sheer weight of evi- 
dence against it. 

These trite remarks were nevertheless rendered neces- 
sary because of the enormous amount of misunderstand- 
ing which exists in connection with these phenomena, 
and of the general methods and objects of psychic re- 
search. The papers that have already been published 
on the question of hallucination in relation to the phys- 
ical phenomena should do much to clear away many of 
these misconceptions, for in them we find (i) a willing- 
ness to treat the phenomena seriously; (ii) an admission 
that the witnesses described what they thought they 
saw; and (iii) a certain amount of evidence advanced 
to show that the alleged phenomena were in reality hal- 
lucinatory in character, while appearing to be external 
physical realities to the onlookers. Let us now examine 
the evidence advanced, and see in how far it is con- 
clusive of the theory entertained — the hypothesis of hal- 
lucination. 

As both Count Solovovo and Miss Johnson have con- 
centrated their attention upon the phenomena occurring 
in the presence of D. D. Home, I shall do so likewise in 
the first part of this chapter. As briefly as possible, I 
shall review their papers, before passing on to more 
general remarks — remarks which it is the object of this 
paper to bring into prominence. 

Count Solovovo thinks that it is evidence in favour 



PHENOMENA OF SPIRITUALISM 191 

of the hallucination theory that: "A flower or other 
small object is seen to move; one person present will 
see a luminous cloud hovering over it, another will de- 
tect a nebulous-looking hand, whilst others will see noth- 
ing but the moving flower. ' ' x 

Miss Johnson agrees with this, and in fact goes so far 
as to say : "If these hands had been completely invisible 
to some person with normal sight looking directly at 
them in a good light, we should then have good evi- 
dence that they were hallucinatory. ' ' 2 

To this I cannot agree. I find myself completely dif- 
fering from Miss Johnson in my interpretation of such 
an incident as this. For, while hallucination is one pos- 
sible theory to account for the phenomena, another 
equally plausible theory is that the hands were in fact 
objective and real, but were only perceptible to various 
individuals in varying degrees. This aspect of the 
problem is hardly touched upon by Count Solovovo, but 
is discussed at some length by Miss Johnson. In this 
connection she says: 

"Here [in the hand, i. e.] is a kind of matter which is 
not only temporary in character — a fact in itself extraor- 
dinary enough — but exhibits another quite unprece- 
dented characteristic in the arbitrary selectiveness of 
its effects on other matter. In order to be visible at 
all, it must reflect light. How does it manage to reflect 
light that affects the retina of one person and not the 
retina of another? We may reply that the difference 
must lie in the retinae, one being more sensitive than 

i Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism, p. 92. 
2 Proceedings, S.P.R., vol. xxi. p. 488. 



192 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

the other. But we do not find the same difference of 
sensitivity in regard to the light reflected from ordi- 
nary objects. It seems to follow then that the light 
reflected from the spirit-hand is a peculiar kind of light, 
lying outside the limits of the ordinary visible spectrum. 
But in that case, why is not the person with the more 
sensitive retina affected by it? For of course all ordi- 
nary objects are constantly giving off radiations outside 
the limits of the visible spectrum ; but our supposed sen- 
sitive apparently does not perceive them. ' ' 1 

First, as to the matters of fact. Where is the evi- 
dence that those with the most sensitive retinae were 
not the very ones who perceived, most perfectly, the 
spirit-hand? Were a series of experiments conducted 
to show which of the onlookers possessed the most sensi- 
tive eyes ? If so, where are these experiments recorded ? 
It is quite possible that the body is constantly giving 
off a kind of aura — perceptible to some, invisible to 
others; and the fact that some do not see it is no proof 
that it is not there. If the experiments of Reichenbaeh 
and others go for anything, indeed, there is very good 
evidence that such emanations do take place — and I 
venture to think (however rank heresy this may ap- 
pear) that these experiments have never been com- 
pletely refuted, and the results obtained shown to be 
traceable in toto to suggestion. The eyes of certain in- 
dividuals might be attuned to receive vibrations or im- 
pressions quite imperceptible to others, no matter how 
sensitive their retinae to normal perceptions or sensa- 
tions. 

1 Proceedings, 8.P.R., vol. xxi. p. 487. 



PHENOMENA OF SPIRITUALISM 193 

But, quite apart from such purely "physical" specu- 
lations, I can quite conceive that these hands were not 
"seen" in the ordinary sense of the word at all. The 
physical eyes may have played some part in their per- 
ception, but only a small part. It is quite possible that 
"hands" of the character here seen were active and 
functioning upon another plane altogether than the 
sense plane, and were perceived at the time by a species 
of clairvoyance. What "clairvoyance" is I do not pre- 
tend to know (unless spiritism be true, in which case I 
can quite easily conceive its modus operandi), but the 
mass of evidence in its favour seems to place it quite 
beyond the pale of doubt. But even if this be not 
granted, I can quite see how a certain rapport between 
the sitter and the hand — or the intelligence behind the 
hand — might easily enable one sitter to perceive it, and 
not another. Analogies from trance phenomena and 
even from experimental thought-transference might be 
drawn here, in favour of such a theory. The whole 
theory of apparitions at the moment of death depends 
upon this established rapport, since, if it did not exist, 
and affect the results, the apparition might just as well 
appear to Tom, Dick, and Harry as to the percipient — 
and the percipient is such (supposedly) simply by rea- 
son of this pre-established rapport. 

There might be, then, a certain rapport between some 
sitters and a plane of activity upon which such hands 
manifest, enabling these individuals to see the hands, 
while prohibiting others from seeing them. The recep- 
tivity or capacity might indicate a greater or lesser de- 
gree of psychic capacity — they would be "more medium- 
istic." That is, the more mediumistic the sitter, the 



194 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

more likely would he be to perceive such hands. And 
of course we all know in this connection that mediums 
or psychics in a circle will perceive hands and faces and 
other forms quite invisible to the ordinary observer. 
The usual recourse in such cases is to assume that the 
mediums are fraudulently in league with one another; 
but when unprofessional psychics experience the same 
sensations (or perceptions) there is good ground for 
calling a halt, and asking whether or not the sensa- 
tions were not possibly genuine in the case of the pro- 
fessional medium also. 

In other words, and to summarize this part of the 
discussion, I can only say that there seems to me no valid 
reason for thinking that the spirit-hands in Home's 
seances were probably hallucinatory in character be- 
cause only some of the sitters saw them. They might 
just as well be explained by supposing that certain of 
the sitters were more psychic or mediumistic than the 
others, and these saw — clairvoyantly or by some similar 
mode of psychic perception — hands and forms invisible 
to those less sensitive. It need hardly be said that the 
carrying about of objects by these hands renders their 
objective nature and existence far more probable than if 
such movements had never taken place. These phys- 
ical phenomena remain, no matter what view we take 
of the visible (or invisible) hands. 

In speaking next of Home's "full-form phantasms," 
Miss Johnson draws attention to the fact, so often 
pointed out by Mr. Podmore, that the various witnesses 
in subsequent accounts do not describe the phenomena 
in the same terms or in precisely the same manner. The 
narrative differs in the various accounts, and the phe- 



PHENOMENA OF SPIRITUALISM 195 

nomena appear far more remarkable in some than in 
others. The inference is that none of them is right — 
certainly not the more remarkable ones — and that the 
inaccuracy of the reports invalidates the records. 

Now I have nothing to say against this method as a 
method. But I think it can be pushed too far and 
wrong deductions drawn therefrom. It is right to dis- 
count the value of the evidence, but that is a different 
thing from discrediting it altogether. If individual 
records differ when describing any particular phenom- 
enon it is right that the less marvellous be accepted as 
the more probable; but this is not saying that the phe- 
nomenon did not take place at all! Any two accounts 
of a given phenomenon must necessarily differ — more 
or less, according to circumstances. But if all the ac- 
counts obviously concern a given phenomenon, and if 
they agree, even in the essential outlines, it is probable 
that the event resembled the description more or less; 
and if in all these accounts there is no evidence of 
fraud forthcoming, and no indications that it existed, 
we must take it for granted that no suspicious circum- 
stances were noted and no fraud detected — for other- 
wise it would have found its way into the records. And 
the fact that it never did find its way into any of them 
(with one doubtful exception, Journal, S.P.B., vol. iv. 
pp. 120-21, and Jan. and May 1903) seems to indicate, 
not that the phenomena were necessarily genuine, but 
that the central theme of the account, so to speak — the 
phenomenon — was seen alike by all, and was variously 
described by the witnesses afterward in the subsequent 
reports. The minor discrepancies do not suffice to ex- 
plain away the phenomenon altogether. They serve 



196 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

merely to render it less marvellous. Many psychic re- 
searchers, however, seem to imagine that because the 
various accounts do not agree, the fact recorded prob- 
ably did not occur at all. That is surely an entirely un- 
warranted supposition, and were this carried to its log- 
ical conclusion, would suffice to disprove the whole of 
the past history of the human race. 

Miss Johnson's discussion of Home's famous levita- 
tion out of one window and in at another is surely mas- 
terly, and is precisely the kind of criticism which psychic 
research needs. After reading her account, I can only 
say that were this case an isolated incident, unsup- 
ported by any similar cases of a like nature, it would 
be so far "explained away" as to lose all evidential 
value. At the same time I think that Count Solovovo 
sums the whole argument up when he says that none of 
Home's phenomena were ever proved to be hallucina- 
tory ; all that has been done by the discussion is to show 
that some of them might possibly have been so. And 
there is a great difference between the two. There is a 
natural tendency in many minds to assume and take for 
granted that because a given phenomenon might pos- 
sibly have been produced by fraud, it was unquestion- 
ably produced in that manner. That is quite an un- 
warranted supposition, and fraud should be clearly 
proved in every given instance before a medium be 
charged with trickery. This is a rule far too seldom ob- 
served by sceptical investigators, but an important one 
nevertheless. 

Leaving aside this particular case of Home's levita- 
tion, however, it may be said that there are others on 
record far more conclusive in character, and against 



PHENOMENA OF SPIRITUALISM 197 

which many of Miss Johnson's criticisms could not be 
levelled. Taken singly, it is probable that no single 
case of any class of phenomena would prove convincing 
to a sceptic; sufficient objections could be raised, and 
sufficient discrepancies in the records pointed out, to 
invalidate any evidence whatever. Quite apart from 
any a priori objections, any single incident can almost 
invariably be "explained away." It is the weight of 
a great mass of cumulative evidence which tells the tale. 
The most expert and exact description of the fall of a 
meteor would not have forced an acceptance from the 
scientific world; the relative improbability of the whole 
of the past experience of the human race would have 
been so much greater than the fact that the latter would 
have been discredited. Gradually it would have receded 
in the mind, and even the original witness might ulti- 
mately be persuaded that he had not in reality seen a 
meteor at all! 

And so it is with psychic research; and so it is with 
the theory under discussion. No single incident, taken 
by itself, can be said to prove anything; only the great 
mass of facts, taken together, and all pointing in • the 
same direction, can be said to do so. One can quite see 
how this would be the case, e. g. in Mrs. Piper's auto- 
matic utterances or writings. No matter how conclu- 
sive any individual "test" might be, it would prove 
nothing by itself. No matter how well attested an ap- 
parition at the moment of death, singly it would indi- 
cate no telepathic communication nor other super- 
normal factor at work. But together these cases form 
a strand 1 which becomes too strong to be broken, and 

i Critics are apt to compare psychic phenomena to the links of 



198 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

which, taken together, practically prove telepathic com- 
munication at the moment of death — at least so thought 
Professor Sidgwick's Committee, of which Miss Johnson 
was one member. (See Proceedings, S.P.B., vol. x. p. 
394.) 

In Home's case, then, the evidence for his levitation 
phenomena rests, not on any one case taken by itself, 
but on the mass of cumulative testimony offered by 
scores of witnesses. However completely one case might 
be explained away, the other cases still remain to us — 
each case standing on its own merits, and many of them 
excellently observed, if not so well recorded. For ex- 
ample, the cases mentioned by Sir. William Crookes 
(Journal, 8.P.B., vol. vi. p. 342) are certainly far su- 
perior, in point of observation, to the famous case so 
severely criticized by Miss Johnson. And I think that 
if one is going to offer any hypothesis at all, it must be 
one that covers all the facts, and not merely one which 
explains only some of them. The hallucinatory nature 
of Home's phenomena is certainly not inclusive — it 
does not include many of the more striking incidents 
to say nothing of the lesser phenomena. For this rea- 
son, it does not appear to me to be conclusive either. 

After a brief discussion of Home's fire-tests, which 

a chain — each phenomenon being a separate link. As the chain 
is only as strong as its separate links, it has been pointed out, 
and as each case, taken by itself, can be shown to be inconclusive, 
it is obvious that the whole of psychic research comes to naught. 
This objection is met, it seems to me, by the following considera- 
tion. Each separate case represents, not the link of a chain, 
but the thread of a woven rope, which, taken by itself, is ex- 
tremely weak, but which, when placed beside hundreds of others, 
becomes so strong as to be practically unbreakable. 



PHENOMENA OF SPIRITUALISM 199 

Miss Johnson practically admits are inexplicable by any 
process either of fraud or of hallucination known to 
her (p. 498), she passes on to what are called "quasi- 
hypnotic" effects. To many of the incidents classed by 
Miss Johnson as due to suggestion, I should be inclined 
to give an entirely different interpretation. Some of 
them doubtless resemble hallucinations in a striking de- 
gree, but what evidence is there that, e. g., passes made 
over the heads of the sitters can induce identical hallu- 
cinations in all of them; or that, because one of the 
circle becomes hysterical, the others are thereby ren- 
dered susceptible to suggestion ? However, I shall defer 
this question until we come to discuss hallucination in 
general. 

After some wholesome criticisms devoted to the "rec- 
ognition" of materialized forms, and the very true 
statement (p. 509) that "a very small error in percep- 
tion may sometimes lead to a very large error of infer- 
ence," Miss Johnson ends her remarkably interesting 
paper with two illustrations — one a hallucination (?)* 
induced by false association of ideas; the other an in- 
cident in her own experience, occurring at a seance with 
Eusapia Palladino. Both of these are of importance, 
and should be studied carefully. 

Count Solovovo on the contrary considers it somewhat 
in favour of the hallucination theory that hands were 
found to melt in the sitters' grasp, when they were forci- 
bly retained (p. 441). I cannot agree with this. It is 

1 This appears to me to be rather an illusion than a pure 
hallucination. Miss Johnson's own case appears to me to be 
an illusion also. See the discussion of this point later on, how- 
ever, 



200 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

a different thing to say that hallucination might ac- 
count for the facts, and saying that the facts tell in 
favour of hallucination. Chance might account for an 
experimental apparition, but the fact that the appari- 
tion occurred does not prove it to be chance. One must 
be careful to distinguish facts and inferences, in a case 
of this character. Whether or not the hands were hal- 
lucinatory will depend, not upon a priori probability, 
or the fact they were visible to some, invisible to others, 
(for all this might just as well be accounted for on the 
opposing theory), but upon the fact that, so far as we 
know, there is no analogy whatever between this oft- 
recorded event and any of the phenomena of suggestion 
known to us. If we offer a theory to explain certain 
facts, it must not only explain them in a rational man- 
ner, but must dovetail into what we know — into the 
known. That is the whole method of science. If, 
therefore, a man advances "hallucination" as an ex- 
planation of such facts as those under discussion, he 
must show how it is that hallucination might be sup- 
posed to work: he must bring forward some analogies 
and examples of somewhat similar instances in order 
to have a case at all. In science, we cannot speculate 
in vacuo, but must connect with what is already known, 
if we wish to be scientific at all. What analogies, then, 
have we that spirit-hands, similar to those described, 
can be created by suggestion; and that suggestion can 
cause a number of investigators, at various times, in 
various places, to believe that these hands melted in 
theirs while they were trying to retain them? 

I venture to think we have no analogies whatever. 
It is quite possible that a subject in a hypnotic trance 



PHENOMENA OF SPIRITUALISM 201 

might be induced to believe that he was holding a hand 
while in fact no hand was there, and, further, that this 
hand melted away in his grasp while he was holding 
fast on to it. But I can see practically no resemblance 
whatever between the two cases. For, in the case we 
have supposed (i) the hand did not move any material 
object; (ii) no one but the hypotized subject saw the 
hand; and (iii) the illusion was only induced by re- 
peated verbal suggestion to a subject already hypno- 
tized. Where is the analogy in the two cases? Home's 
hands moved objects; they were seen by several people 
at once ; and, so far as the records prove anything, they 
prove that constant verbal suggestions of the sort nec- 
essary were certainly not given, while there is no evi- 
dence whatever that the subjects were hypnotized ! On 
this very subject, speaking of Home's seances, Sir Wil- 
liam Crookes has said: 

"General conversation was going on all the time, and 
on many occasions something on the table had moved 
some time before Home was aware of it. We had to 
draw his attention to such things far oftener than he 
drew our attention to them. Indeed, he sometimes used 
to annoy me by his indifference to what was going 
on. 

Does this look like suggestion? Is there any simi- 
larity between the two cases? Their differences are too 
obvious to dwell upon. And, apart from the perform- 
ances of the Hindu fakirs (which I have discussed else- 
where, 2 and which Count Solovovo himself thinks too 

1 Journal, vol. vi. p. 343. 

2 See The Physical Phenomena of Spiritualism, pp. 386-93, find 



202 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

few and too weak evidentially to require serious con- 
sideration), there is no similarity between an hallucina- 
tion induced in a hypnotized subject by constant verbal 
suggestion, and one supposedly induced instantaneously 
in a large number of persons, not hypnotized, without 
any suggestion. The cases cannot be considered similar, 
or even as resembling one another in the slightest de- 
gree; while the improbability is heightened a thousand- 
fold by the fact that these hands apparently performed 
physical actions and moved physical objects at the same 
time. The coincidence would have to be explained as 
well as the hallucination, in that case. 

Both Count Solovovo and Miss Johnson lay particu- 
lar stress upon the fact that the Master of Lindsay seems 
to have been extremely suggestible. Assuredly, that is 
an important point in so far as his own experiences are 
concerned, but the fact in nowise affects the experiences 
of others. In order to prove that suggestibility played 
an important part in the phenomena, it would be nec- 
essary to show that all witnesses of the phenomena were 
suggestible — for the phenomena were seen by all in a 
slightly varying degree. Yet there is no evidence that 
many of the witnesses were suggestible at all: they did 
not see things Home suggested they should see, while, 
on the other hand, they saw things quite on their own 
account, when Home was busily engaged in conversa- 
tion with some one else. The whole case must be made 
to hang together, and if "suggestion" be the key to the 
puzzle, it certainly fits the lock remarkably ill. 1 

my pamphlet Hindu Magic, for a discussion of these perform- 
ances, and of the theory of hallucination in connection therewith, 
i See, e. g., Count Solovovo's position which he was driven to 



PHENOMENA OF SPIRITUALISM 203 

In summing-up his paper and the evidence contained 
therein, Count Solovovo concludes: 

"For my own part I lay it down as a general propo- 
sition . . . that the testimony of several sane, honest 
and intelligent eye-witnesses is, broadly speaking, proof 
of the objectivity of any phenomenon. If there are 
people who maintain an opposite view, let them make 
experiments themselves" (p. 477). 

That is precisely the position I should assume: I do 
not believe that collective hallucinations of the kind 
supposed exist at spiritistic seances, except perhaps very 
rarely, and to special gatherings of individuals. Let 
me now adduce the evidence in favour of my position, 
and the reasons for my taking this stand so strongly. 

First, then, let us distinguish between illusions and 
hallucinations, as this is of the very greatest importance 
in a discussion such as this. An illusion is a false 
sensory perception, the basis of which is, nevertheless, 
real. Thus, if an old coat in a corner of the room be 
mistaken for a dog, that would be an illusion. A point 
de repere is there — a peg, upon which the mind hangs 
its false inferences or perceptions. An hallucination, 
on the other hand, is entirely a creation of the mind, 
and there is, in this case, no point de repere, which 
exists externally, and serves as the basis of the halluci- 
nation. Roughly speaking, this may be said to be the 
difference between the two. Now, let us apply this to 

accept — that the chair-threading witnessed by him was due to 
unconscious telepathic suggestion ! ( p. 469 ) . The position ap- 
pears to me to be absolutely untenable, in face of the evidence 
he himself adduces. 



204 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

Home's seances, and to spiritistic seances in general. 
During the course of my twenty years' constant in- 
vestigation, I have had many score seances with various 
mediums — slate-writing mediums, materializing medi- 
ums, physical mediums, clairvoyant mediums, et hoc 
genus omne. Speaking now of materialization seances 
only — of which I have seen many — I may say that in 
all my investigations / have never seen one single 
instance of suggested or spontaneous hallucination. 
Plenty of illusions were observed, but never the trace 
of a full-blown hallucination. 1 And I venture to think 

i An excellent example of an illusion generated by the condi- 
tions of a spiritualistic seance is the following, which occurred 
to myself at Lily Dale, N. Y., during my investigations there in 
the summer of 1907, and which I reported in the Proceedings of 
the American 8.P.R., as follows: — 

"My sister 'Eva' materialized for me. I suggested 'Eva' and 
she 'came.' I never had a sister Eva, so she was a little out of 
place. However, she 'came' as a little girl about ten years old, 
with a hooked nose, bright black eyes, and a fringe of false hair 
over her forehead. Her doll-like appearance was very manifest. 
After she de-materialized, I was on the point of walking back to 
my chair, but was told to wait. I returned to the curtains of 
the cabinet, and my mother announced herself present, 'who had 
died from consumption.' The curtains were pulled aside, and I 
put my face close to the opening, since it was so dark I could 
see nothing. And there, in the dim twilight of that seance 
room, I beheld one of the most ghastly, most truly terrifying 
faces I have ever seen. It was white and drawn, and almost 
shiny in its glossy, ashen hue. The eyes were wide open and 
staring — fixed. The head and face were encircled in white; and 
altogether the face was one of the most appalling I have ever 
beheld, and it would have required a great deal of fortitude, for 
the moment, to look steadfastly at that terrifying face — in that 
quiet, still room, in response to the spirit's demand: 'Look at 
me!' The distance between our faces was not more than six 



PHENOMENA OF SPIRITUALISM 205 

that, if we examine the evidence in the case of D. D. 
Home, we find very few cases which could have been 
illusions — the vast majority of them seem to have been 
"pure hallucinations" — if they were psychological proc- 
esses (as opposed to physical) at all. So that we should 
have to suppose that we find in these seances — not mere 
illusions, commonly seen at spiritualistic seances, but 
full-blown hallucinations of a type rarely or never seen 
elsewhere. In other words, these seances present evi- 
dences of psychological processes for which we can find 
no analogy in any other series of seances, or in hypnotic 
or any other phenomena with which we are familiar. I 
venture to think that this entirely new order of things 
cannot be accepted upon such evidence: that the hy- 
pothesis of hallucination cannot be said to explain any- 

inches; and after the first shock, I regarded the face intently. 
I was spurred by curiosity and excitement, and prompted yet 
further by the spirit form, who grasped my wrist, through the 
curtain, and drew me yet closer — until I was nearly in the cabi- 
net itself. I remembered that my mother had not died from 
consumption, and that the present face in nowise resembled hers, 
and my feeling of terrror lasted but an instant; but it was there 
at the time, I confess. I regarded the face intently, and it was 
gradually withdrawn into the shadow of the cabinet, and the 
curtains pulled over it. / am certain that, had I been in an 
excited and unbalanced frame of mind at tlvat instant, I should 
have sworn that the face melted away as I looked at it. But 
my mental balance was by that time regained, and I could 
analyse what was before me. I can quite easily see how it is 
that persons can swear to the melting away of a face before 
their eyes, after my own experience. The appearances clearly 
indicated that, and it was only my alertness to the possibility 
of deception in this direction, which prevented my testifying to 
the same effect." (See my Personal Experiences in Spiritualism, 
pp. 31-32.) 



206 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

thing whatever, inasmuch as it is entirely unsupported 
by facts, and finds no analogies whatever in any other 
psychological processes known to us. 

At the very conclusion of his paper, Count Solovovo 
places his finger upon the vulnerable spot : he there 
points out the only way to solve the difficulty. It is 
by the accumulation and study of new facts. Discus- 
sions as to the historical phenomena might go on for 
ever and the question still remain unsolved. The only 
way out of the difficulty is to establish, if possible, the 
objective or the hallucinatory character of these newer 
phenomena — if such are obtained — and from them draw 
conclusions concerning the older manifestations. If 
these newer phenomena turn out to be hallucinatory — 
in spite of all the testimony in favour of their being 
objective — then it is highly probable that many of the 
older phenomena were hallucinatory also. If, on the 
other hand, the newer phenomena turn out to be phys- 
ical and objective, then the improbability of the older 
manifestations having been hallucinatory is proportion- 
ately increased — until it becomes almost a certainty that 
they were not so. For, if physical phenomena of a 
genuine character ever do occur, the a priori improba- 
bility is at once removed, and thenceforward there is 
but little ground for objecting to the phenomena in 
Home 's case ; and not only those, but the phenomena in 
the case of Stainton Moses, and scores of others less well 
attested. The props would have been knocked from 
beneath all logical scepticism of the historical phenom- 
ena, once newer manifestations of the same type be 
proved true. The whole case hinges upon the fact of 
whether or not such new facts as may be forthcoming 



PHENOMENA OF SPIRITUALISM 207 

tend to prove either the one theory or the other. Let 
us therefore turn to this newer evidence, and see which 
alternative is rendered more probable by the phenom- 
ena in question. 

This newer evidence is, of course, supplied by the case 
of Eusapia Palladino. Here we find phenomena of a 
physical character recorded by many men and women — 
including numerous eminent scientists — not one of whom 
tolerates for a moment the idea that these phenomena 
are hallucinatory. Indeed, the photographs of table 
levitations, of hands and heads, 1 of instruments flying 
through the air, 2 and the impressions left in cakes of 
plaster, 3 leave no doubt whatever that, in this case, the 
phenomena — no matter how produced — are objective. 
This conclusion is further supported by the fact that 
registering apparatus has been employed, and has suc- 
cessfully recorded the results of physical movements. 
From this, it is certain that real, objective facts have 
been observed. 4 Whether the phenomena were due to 
fraud or were the results of the operation of some su- 
pernormal force, or whatever their explanation, they 
were certainly not due to hallucination. 

1 Annals of Psychical Science, April 1908, pp. 181-91. 

2 Ibid., April-June 1909, pp. 285-305. 

3 Flammarion : Mysterious Psychic Forces; Morselli: Psicol- 
ogia e Spiritismo; De Fontenay: A Propos d'Eusapia Paladino; 
De Eochas: L' Exteriorization de la Motricite, etc. 

* Why were Sir William Crookes' experiments with the spring 
balance not discussed, by the way, in this connection? Here we 
have indubitable proof of the objectivity of the phenomena; even 
Mr. Podmore being driven to grant this, and suppose that the 
manifestations were the result of some trick. — Modem Spiritual- 
ism, vol. ii. p. 242. 



208 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

Our own sittings, it seems to me, abundantly confirm 
this conclusion. During the greater part of the time, 
when phenomena were in progress, Eusapia was passive 
and silent : when she did speak, she did not suggest any- 
thing to us directly, and even if she had done so, it 
would have been in Italian — a language I do not under- 
stand. And yet I saw the phenomena — the movements 
of objects, the hands and the heads, and felt the touches 
— just as the others did: in fact, I think I may say 
more frequently than either of my colleagues did. How 
was this? Eusapia only "suggested" anything to us 
on three occasions, and on two of these we failed to 
perceive what she wished us to see ! On the other hand, 
we frequently perceived what she did not "suggest" to 
us, and which came as a complete surprise to us all. 
The expression ' ' Oh ! ' ' occurring, as it does, at several 
places in the notes, shows how unexpected the manifesta- 
tion was. When one's hair is suddenly and forcibly 
pulled by living fingers, and when one is banged over 
the head by a closed fist, and when one is grasped by a 
hand and pulled so forcibly as to almost upset one into 
the cabinet — it requires a strong imagination to believe 
that this is nothing but hallucination. Then, too, we 
all saw the phenomenon at the same instant, invariably ; 
and if one of us failed to do so, it was always because 
there was a physical cause for it : the curtain intervened, 
or something of a similar nature occurred. I need 
hardly point out that this, in itself — looked at from one 
point of view — is exceedingly strong evidence that the 
manifestation was not hallucinatory, but objective. The 
unexpected nature of the majority of the phenomena — 
when Eusapia was in deep trance, and we were doing 



PHENOMENA OF SPIRITUALISM 209 

all the talking — renders the hypothesis of hallucination 
quite untenable, it seems to me; at least, if any one 
chooses to defend it, he must give some analogies and 
somewhat similar instances of the power of suggestion — 
a task that will never be satisfactorily undertaken ; of 
that I am sure. 

No; whatever be the interpretation of these phenom- 
ena, they are certainly not hallucinatory. And if they 
were objective, it is almost certain that the Home phe- 
nomena were objective also — since the parallel between 
the two cases is often extremely close. 

And this, it appears to me, is the only way of ap- 
proaching this problem that is liable to prove conclusive 
or trustworthy. Discussions of historical phenomena 
will never settle anything one way or the other : nothing 
is proved thereby, one way or the other. The only con- 
clusive method, as Count Solovovo pointed out — and I 
heartily agree with him — is the accumulation of new 
facts; and these new facts, when obtained, have, it ap- 
pears to me (and to my colleagues also), proved beyond 
all question that the phenomena were genuine in at 
least some instances; and, that once admitted, the 
a priori doubts are removed, and the historic phenom- 
ena raised to a standard of probability which amounts 
to certitude. Some of the physical phenomena of spir- 
itualism are objective — real, external facts; and I am 
assured that they are not due to fraud or trickery. 
Whatever their ultimate explanation, however, they can 
no longer be said to be due to any form of hallucina- 
tion in the sitters. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE PROBLEMS OF TELEPATHY 

' ' I suppose everybody would say it would be au extraor- 
dinary circumstance," said the Right Hon. A. J. Bal- 
four, M.P., F.R.S., in his Presidential Address before 
the Society for Psychical Research, some years ago, "if 
at no distant date this earth on which we dwell were to 
come into collision with some unknown body travelling 
through space, and, as the result of that collision, be 
resolved into the original gases of which it is com- 
posed. . . . This is a specimen of a dramatically ex- 
traordinary event. Now I will give you a case of what 
I mean by a scientifically extraordinary event — which 
you will at once perceive may be one which, at first 
sight and to many observers, may appear almost com- 
monplace and familiar. I have constantly met people 
who will tell you, with no apparent consciousness that 
they are saying anything more out of the way than an 
observation about the weather, that by the exercise of 
their will they can make anybody at a little distance 
turn round and look at them. Now such a fact (if fact 
it be) is far more scientifically extraordinary than 
would be the destruction of this globe by some such 
celestial catastrophe as I have imagined. How pro- 
foundly mistaken, then, are they who think that this 
exercise of 'will power,' as they call it, is the most 

210 



THE PROBLEMS OF TELEPATHY 211 

natural and the most normal thing in the world, some- 
thing which everybody should have expected, something 
which hardly deserves scientific notice or requires sci- 
entific explanation. In reality it is a profound mys- 
tery, if it is true, or if anything like it be true ; and no 
event, however startling, which easily finds its appro- 
priate niche in the structure of the physical sciences 
ought to exercise so much intellectual curiosity as this 
dull and at first sight commonplace phenomenon." 
{Proceedings, S.P.R., vol. x. pp. 9-10.) 

These were the words, not only of the Premier of 
England, but of an exceptionally well-balanced and 
learned man of science, from which it will be seen how 
extraordinary a thing this "thought-transference" or 
"telepathy" is to the scientific world; and how hard it 
is for the savant to accept it ! Yet, as Mr. Balfour says, 
nearly every one at the present time believes in telepathy, 
and accepts it as the only explanation for certain facts, 
and as a more or less commonplace event. Why, then, 
is there so much mystery about it ; why is it so extraor- 
dinary ? 

The reason for this lies in the fact that psychologists 
hold a certain view of the nature of the mind which is 
not shared or understood by the majority of persons. 
They believe that the mind, or consciousness, is bound 
up with the functionings of the brain; and that it is 
inseparable from them. Just as digestion is a function 
of the whole digestive apparatus, circulation of the cir- 
culatory apparatus, and respiration of the respiratory 
apparatus ; just so, it is believed, is thinking a function 
of the thinking apparatus — the brain and nervous sys- 



212 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

tern. And one is no more detachable than the other; 
and one is no more "immortal" after the death of the 
body than the other. All these functions fall away and 
perish at once, at the moment of death. This is the 
position of positive, materialistic psychology — which is 
the psychology taught in our schools and colleges at the 
present day. Naturally, our professors do not believe 
in telepathy; were this theory true, it would be "im- 
possible," just as impossible as it is for a solid object 
to be in two places at the same time. Consciousness 
cannot be both inside the brain and out of it; and as it 
is believed to reside inside, it cannot be outside ! As it 
is a function of nervous tissue, how can it make itself 
manifest at a distance of 2000 miles — at the moment, 
too, when it is being annihilated. Obviously the thing 
is impossible ! 

But, alas for science (or rather for the dogmatic 
scientist), the experience of the past tells us that 
many things deemed impossible are nevertheless facts. 
Though they are jeered at when they are first brought 
to the attention of the scientific world, subsequent in- 
vestigation has only served to confirm them. ... It 
is on record that no physician over forty years of age 
at the time of his great discovery ever accepted Har- 
vey's proof of the circulation of the blood — so great 
was the force of tradition and orthodoxy. . . . And to- 
day the facts of "psychical research" are laughed at, 
and its investigators held up to ridicule, because of this 
same spirit of prejudice and intolerance, and the desire 
to mock at what we do not understand. ' ' But, ' ' as Pro- 
fessor James so well remarked a propos of this subject, 
"whenever a debate between the mystics and the sci- 



THE PROBLEMS OF TELEPATHY 213 

entists has been once for all decided, it is the mystics 
who have usually proved to be right about the facts, 
while the scientists had the better of it in respect to 
theories." But inasmuch as only the "facts" are now 
in dispute, and no one cares as yet what theory shall be 
adopted in order to explain them, is it not time at least 
to investigate them, and to see whether or not such facts 
exist — quite irrespective of whether they are explain- 
able, when found? 

The facts, then; are they true or are they not? It is 
a question quite open to discussion, one quite capable of 
being solved by scientific methods. It is useless to say 
beforehand whether or not such and such things are or 
are not possible; the question is: Do they exist? We 
must not question their utility either, even if true, for 
this never enters into any scientific question of fact. 
Like the celebrated French philosopher whose friend 
had proved to him the "impossibility" of a certain hap- 
pening, he replied: "My dear sir, I never said it was 
possible; I said it was a fact!" 

So, then, we come to the evidence for this wonderful 
power of telepathy or thought-transference. Here I 
must be very brief, indicating merely a fraction of the 
evidence which has been accumulated in proof of this 
startling scientific truth. 

When the Society for Psychical Research was founded, 
in 1882, its main energies were directed toward the in- 
vestigation of this faculty, and of the reality of thought- 
transference. The various Committees who were en- 
gaged in this investigation soon came to the conclusion 
that its reality was beyond doubt. Some of the most 
interesting and conclusive experiments were those con- 



214 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 



ducted by Mr. Guthrie, a gentleman living in Liverpool, 
and two of his employes. The tests were so arranged 
that fraud was out of the question, even had it been 
attempted. All the subjects were in a normal state, 
blindfolded, and separated some distance. Strict silence 
was observed. In the presence of Messrs. Myers and 
Gurney, the following trials in transferring the sensa- 
tion of taste were attempted. Various substances were 
provided the "agent" (the one who was to transfer the 
sensation) and he placed a small quantity of one of 
these in his mouth; while the "percipient" (receiver of 
the telepathically sent message) stated what his or her 
impressions were. To quote one set of trials: 



September 4 



Substance Tested 
Worcestershire sauce. 

it a 

Port wine. 



Bitter aloes. 
Alum. 



Nutmeg. 

SS 

Sugar. 
tt 

Cayenne pepper. 



Answers Given 
Worcestershire sauce. 
Vinegar. 
Between eau de Cologne and 

beer. 
Raspberry vinegar. 
Horrible and bitter. 
A taste of ink — of iron — of 

vinegar. I feel it on my 

lips; as if I had been eating 

alum. 
Do. distinct impression: bitter 

taste persisted. 
Peppermint — no; what you put 

in puddings — nutmeg. 
Nutmeg. 
Nothing perceived. 

tt IS 

Mustard. 
Cayenne pepper. 



THE PROBLEMS OF TELEPATHY 



215 



The next series of experiments concerned the trans- 
ference of bodily pains. The subjects still being blind- 
folded, and some distance apart, the agent was pricked 
in various parts of his body by a needle. Several phy- 
sicians were present at these experiments: 

Back of left ear pricked. Rightly located. 

Lobe of left ear pricked. Rightly located. 

Left wrist pricked. "It is the left hand." 

Third finger of left hand tightly bound round with wire. A 

lower joint of that finger was guessed. 
Left wrist scratched with pins. "Is it the left wrist? Like 

being scratched." 
Left ankle pricked. Rightly located. 

Now it would be foolish to attribute such results as 
these to chance. But let us proceed. 

Dr. Blair Thaw tried a number of experiments in 
transferring colours. The following are samples: 

Coloues Chosen at Random 

Chosen 1st Guess 2nd Guess 

Bright red. Bright red. .... 

Bright green. Light green. .... 

Yellow. Dark blue. Yellow. 

Bright yellow. Bright yellow. .... 

Dark red. Blue. Dark red. 

Dark blue. Orange. Dark blue. 

Orange. Green. Heliotrope. 

In 1895 Mr. Henry G. Rawson published a paper on 
the subject, in which he narrated his success in trans- 
ferring the diagrams of objects. Tracings of these are 
given herewith. (0 = original and R = reproduction. ) 
Further comment is hardly necessary. 

He also tried a number of experiments in naming 



216 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 




DlAGBAM IlXUSTEATIVE OF ThOUGHT-TbANSFEBENCE, 

(O = Original. E = Eeproduction. ) 



THE PROBLEMS OF TELEPATHY 217 

cards drawn at random from the pack (where the chance 
is always 51 to 1 of being correct, and the chance of 
being correct a number of times in succession is incon- 
ceivably great) and he attained the following results, 
among others: 

Card Chosen Card Guessed 

5 of Hearts. 7 of Hearts, Ace of Diamonds. 

8 of Hearts. 8 of Hearts. 

10 of Clubs. 9 of Clubs, 10 of Clubs. 

Jack of Diamonds. Jack of Diamonds. 

5 of Spades. 7 of Spades, 5 of Spades. 

2 of Clubs. 2 of Diamonds, 2 of Clubs. 

Queen of Hearts. Queen of Hearts. 

5 of Diamonds. 9 of Diamonds, 5 of Diamonds. 

Ace of Diamonds. Ace of Diamonds. 

Ace of Hearts. Ace of Hearts. 

Ace of Clubs. Ace of Clubs. 

King of Spades. King of Diamonds, King of Spades. 

Again, it is useless to say that such results are at- 
tributable to chance. The good standing of the partici- 
pants places their good faith beyond question; all nor- 
mal means of communication were prevented. How are 
we to account for such facts — short of invoking some 
sort of mental interaction, through other than the ordi- 
nary channels of sense? 

But these were experiments conducted in the normal 
state. Equally and even more interesting and conclu- 
sive results were obtained when the subject was placed 
under hypnotism. Of these, the most conclusive experi- 
ments were those conducted by Mrs. Sidgwick and Miss 
Alice Johnson. Put to the law of chance, it was shown 
that such coincidences were many hundreds, not to say 
thousands, of times more numerous than chance could 



218 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

account for. Then, again, we have the experiments at 
a great distance, in which Dr. Pierre Janet willed a 
patient of his to come through the streets, and she 
almost invariably came when he willed it. We have, 
too, a number of most interesting experiments in which 
dreams have been induced in others — by trying to in- 
fluence the sleeping thoughts of the dreamer. Here is 
a fruitful field, as yet hardly touched, for an experi- 
menter in this line of research. 1 

Among the most interesting and dramatic cases of the 
kind are those experiments in which one person has 
voluntarily caused a figure of himself to appear to 
another at a distance. Thus, A sits down and wills 
intently that he shall appear to B that night — in sleep 
or waking, as the case may be. The next morning A 
receives a letter from B, stating that he has seen an 
apparition of him, and asking him if he is well. The 
following is an example of a case of this character: 

"One certain Sunday evening in November, 1881, 
having been reading of the great power which the hu- 
man will is capable of exercising, I determined with the 
whole force of my being that I would be present in 
spirit in the front bedroom of the second floor of a 
house situated at 22 Hogarth Road, Kensington, in which 
room slept two young ladies of my acquaintance, viz. 
Miss L. S. V. and Miss E. C. V., aged respectively 
twenty-five and eleven years. I was living at this time 
at 23 Kildare Gardens, at a distance of about three miles 
from Hogarth Road, and I had not in any way men- 

i See Dr. G. B. Ermacora's paper in Proceedings, S.P.K., vol. 
xi. pp. 235-308. 



THE PROBLEMS OF TELEPATHY 219 

tioned my intention of trying this experiment to either 
of the above ladies, for the simple reason that it was 
only on retiring to rest upon this particular Sunday 
night that I made up my mind to do so. The time at 
which I determined to be there was one o'clock in the 
morning, and I also had a strong intention of making 
my presence perceptible. 

"On the following Thursday I went to see the ladies 
in question, and in the course of conversation (without 
any allusion to the subject on my part) the elder one 
told me that on the previous Sunday night she had been 
much terrified by perceiving me standing by her bed- 
side and that she screamed when the apparition ad- 
vanced toward her, and awoke her little sister who saw 
me also. ..." (Corroborative evidence was obtained 
from the two ladies mentioned.) 

Such a case is called a " telepathically induced hallu- 
cination" or an "experimental apparition," for the rea- 
son that the figure seen is doubtless hallucinatory in 
character and was induced by means of telepathy. 
Such cases (and there are plenty of them) are very 
striking proof of the direct action of mind on mind ; and 
at the same time form a sort of bridge across the 
gulf which otherwise seems to exist between the experi- 
mental cases we have just quoted and the spontaneous 
cases to which we must now refer. 

Soon after the Society began its work it was noticed 
that numbers of cases were sent in, in which apparitions 
were seen at the very moment of the death of the per- 
son symbolized by the apparition. In many such cases, 
no other experience such as this has happened to the 



220 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

percipient throughout his or her life; but on the very 
occasion when such a figure was seen, the individual was 
found to have died at that particular time! Can so 
many cases of so remarkable a character be attributed to 
chance ? 

The answer at first sight is: No. But here we must 
be cautious. In scientific research such as this, we must 
not be guided by impressions, but by facts and figures. 
Accordingly it was decided to put this matter to the 
test, and an "International Census of Hallucinations" 
was inaugurated, which extended throughout several 
countries (America being represented by Professor "Wil- 
liam James), and the taking of which lasted several 
years. As the result of this laborious undertaking, 
30,000 answers were received — the percentage of coin- 
cidental apparitions being calculated. After making 
allowances for all possible sources of error, it was ascer- 
tained that the number of coincidences received were 
several hundred times too numerous to be attributed to 
chance ; and the following statement was signed by Pro- 
fessor Sidgwick's Committee 1 : 

"Between deaths and apparitions of the dying person 
a connection exists which is not due to chance alone. 
This we hold as a proved fact." 

These are important words in many senses ; and donne 
a penser. It shows us that, after all is said and done, 
this old theory of "ghosts" is not so far wrong, and 
that they, in a certain sense, do exist ; it is only a matter 
of their interpretation: the "mystics" have as usual 

i Professor Henry Sidgwick, as we know, was Professor of 
Moral Philosophy in Cambridge, and his works on Ethics and 
Political Economy are considered standard in all countries. 



THE PROBLEMS OF TELEPATHY 221 

been right as to the existence of the facts, but the " sci- 
entists" may be right in their interpretation of them. 

So we have the whole class of "spontaneous" tele- 
pathic phenomena, so called because they are not in- 
duced by direct experiment. In this class we have all 
those manifestations which take place at or about the 
moment of death; phantasms of the living, phantasms 
of the dying, and phantasms of the dead — according to 
whether the subject is yet living, is dying, or has re- 
cently died. In all such cases we may postulate a tele- 
pathic action at the moment of death, for in those cases 
when the apparition was seen but a few minutes or even 
a few hours after death, the impact might have been 
transmitted at the moment of death, and only have 
emerged into consciousness during the quietness and 
peace of the evening, or when night gave it a chance to 
do so. For we now know that subconscious ideas do 
tend to rise into consciousness when the latter is less 
occupied with the events of the day. 

It is, of course, impossible to detail here the mass of 
evidence of all kinds which has been accumulated of 
late years in favour of the existence of telepathy, but 
enough has been quoted to indicate the method of ap- 
proach and the character of the evidence adduced. Suf- 
fice it to say that, in the eyes of those who have inquired 
into the subject closely, telepathy is now held to be 
proved; it is now considered to be a scientific fact, 
though not as yet explained. Again I repeat, the ques- 
tion is not: Is it possible? but, Is it a fact? 

Taking all that has been said into consideration, it 
may fairly be contended that the mere fact of telepathy 
may therefore be said to have been proved. This being 



222 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

so, the interesting question of its nature or character 
presents itself. How is such action to be explained? 
How account for the facts? 

There are many theories which have been advanced 
from time to time to explain this remarkable phenom- 
enon, and, if it be a fact in nature, its scientific ex- 
planation must some day be forthcoming. Once tele- 
pathy stands proved it will mean the remoulding and 
recasting of many of our scientific theories, and even a 
reconstruction of science — in so far, at least, as it refers 
to physiological psychology. Such being the case, and 
telepathy being proved, as many eminent men of sci- 
ence today believe, the question of its theoretical expla- 
nation becomes most important. 

Now the first analogy which strikes one in the con- 
sideration of this question is that of wireless telegraphy 
— the subtle electric vibrations which journey to and fro 
with incredible swiftness through the universal ether. 
In short, telepathy is thought by many to be simply a 
species of physical vibration, proceeding from brain to 
brain, just as electric waves pass from the transmitter 
to the receiver in wireless telegraphy. This explana- 
tion is so common that many persons accept it without 
further ado, as being the correct explanation of the 
facts. But such a theory cannot be said to cover the 
facts in a satisfactory manner. 

In the first place, there seems to be no definite or 
prescribed area in the brain adapted for such a purpose ; 
no cell or centre has as yet been discovered which ap- 
pears destined to send out waves of this character. 
Still, perhaps it will be some day, for the functions of 
certain portions of the brain — particularly the frontal 



THE PROBLEMS OF TELEPATHY 223 

lobes — are as yet very little understood. But there is 
the argument that, if such waves exist, they must be 
detected by means of our scientific instruments — instru- 
ments so delicate and subtle that they are able to meas- 
ure the difference of the pull of gravity of an article 
when placed on the table or on the floor, or can register 
the heat of a candle at a distance of more than a mile 
(Langley's bolometer). Compared with such delicate 
instruments, our five senses are coarse indeed, and any 
vibrations which can affect these same senses must 
surely affect the more delicate and sensitive instruments 
just mentioned. Yet none of them have as yet been 
able to indicate the existence of any such vibrations, and 
this would seem to show that they cannot exist. 1 

But there is a reply to this argument. It may be said 
that, although the senses do not register any such vibra- 
tions, the brain might do so, in some direct manner ; and 
the brain might be far more sensitive than any instru- 
ment so far devised. Indeed the definition of telepathy, 
"the ability of one mind to influence or be influenced 
by another mind otherwise than through the recognized 
channels of sense," would seem to indicate that in this 
process only the brain is involved, and not necessarily 
the physical senses at all. So far, then, so good; tele- 
pathy might still be vibratory in character. 

But if so, how could such waves get through the 
skull to act upon the brain direct ? This is a staggering 
thought to the ordinary materialist, and at first sight 
renders such an action unintelligible and hence "im- 
possible"! But to reason thus would be very super- 

i This is the argument put forward by, e. g., Carl Snyder, in 
his New Conceptions in Science, pp. 306-7. 



224 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

ficial. For we know that certain physical energies pass 
through solid substances — substances impervious to 
other physical energies. Thus we know that glass per- 
mits light to pass through it, but is a non-conductor of 
electricity; while steel is impervious to light, yet elec- 
tricity can traverse miles of steel in the fraction of a 
second. "Gravity" seems the only energy which can- 
not be isolated by some means or other. No substance 
is opaque to gravity. It acts through all substances, 
at all times, continuously. In this respect telepathy 
may resemble gravitation. 1 If this were true, or any- 
thing like it were true, we could easily see why a solid 
substance, such as the human skull, might offer no ap- 
preciable resistance to the passage through it of un- 
dulations of a certain velocity — of a speed so great, per- 
haps, that they could not be detected by any of the in- 
struments at the command of the physicist today. 

But there are other and still more serious objections 
to the vibratory action of telepathy which have not as 
yet been mentioned. For if we try to push the analogy 
further, we shall find that it is by no means so clear as 
might be supposed. Thus in the case of wireless teleg- 
raphy the vibratory action of the ether is a purely me- 
chanical process and does not carry emotion, thought, 
or intelligence with it — being vibration pure and sim- 
ple. Now, in the case of a supposed telepathic message, 
thought flashed from one brain to another must be sup- 
posed to convey with it intelligence of some sort; for 
if it were a purely mechanical vibratory action, how is 
it that this would impress another brain in such an en- 

1 See my article in The Monist (July-September 1913, pp. 
445-58), "Earlier Theories of Gravity."— H. C. 



THE PROBLEMS OF TELEPATHY 225 

tirely different manner from all other vibrations as to 
create in that brain not only a thought, but the precise 
kind of thought — the replica of the thought — which 
originated in the brain of the agent ? Granting that vi- 
brations are but "symbols," and that they are inter- 
preted by our brains as things, the difficulty remains 
that, in all other cases, such vibrations, no matter what 
their intensity, convey to the brain the idea of external 
objects, or qualities of those objects, and do not convey 
to it the idea of mind or intelligence. How is it, there- 
fore, that one particular species of vibration, which, we 
must assume, would vary more or less with each in- 
dividual, can convey with it the idea of thought, and 
that this vibration is associated with mind, and in fact 
is thought, while all other vibrations in the world are in 
nowise connected with intelligence and do not appear to 
us to be so connected? And further, how infinitely we 
should have to vary the degree and type of vibration to 
correspond to all shades of thought and feeling and 
emotion! Sir William Crookes some years ago urged 
the possibility of this vibratory action of telepathy; but 
Mr. Myers has pointed out its defects and stated that all 
we can at present say about telepathy is that "life has 
the power of manifesting to life" — a formula surely 
general enough, yet highly significant. 

Again, the theory has been advanced that all minds 
are in touch in a sort of subterranean way — through 
their subliminal regions — just as all spokes of a wheel 
ultimately reach the hub, though each spoke is distinc- 
tive. In this way we could imagine an interconnection 
taking place, of which we are quite unaware, under cer- 
tain favourable conditions. To use an analogy some- 



226 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

where employed by Professor James, our conscious 
minds are like the leaves of the trees which whisper 
together, but the roots of the trees are all embedded in 
the same soil and are interlaced inextricably. So our 
minds, though they appear to be so separate and apart, 
may really be at basis fundamentally one. There must 
be, it is said, some common ground of interaction ; pos- 
sibly a sort of universal fluid, in which all minds are 
bathed, and by means of which interaction of thought 
is effected. This is somewhat akin to the theory first 
propounded by Mesmer, and which has been revived, in 
somewhat altered form, more than a hundred years later. 
Mesmer held that thought was communicated from 
brain to brain "by the vibrations of a subtle fluid with 
which the nerve substance is in continuity." Truly, if 
any sort of physical action is employed, this seems a 
significant enough remark. We know that two tuning 
forks will resound in unison, if one of them be struck. 
Put in motion a magnetized needle ; at a certain distance 
and without contact another magnetized needle will 
oscillate synchronously with the first. Set in vibration 
a violin string, or the string of a piano ; and at a certain 
distance the string of another piano or violin will vi- 
brate in unison with it. Such analogies make us wonder 
whether or not communication of this kind might not 
exist, and, certainly, in order to make telepathy intelli- 
gible at all, we must suppose some such action taking 
place. We all have a tendency to think in physical 
symbols, owing to our materialistic training. 

For if we try to picture to ourselves the process of 
telepathy as taking place in some manner other than 
physical, how are we to conceive such action ? Does one 



THE PROBLEMS OF TELEPATHY 227 

consciousness stretch out, as it were, and grasp the 
other passive mind? or does the agent project the 
thought from his brain and impress the mind of the 
percipient with it — just as a bullet might be shot from 
a rifle, or light waves radiate from some centre? The 
first of these theories would be somewhat akin to true 
mind-reading, the other to thought-projection or trans- 
ference. But if the latter theory be correct, is all 
thought directed into one single channel — at a target 
as it were — or does it spread equally in all directions, 
like all other vibratory radiations ? It may be conceived 
that telepathy is a combination of both the above proc- 
esses — it being a kind of mutual action — a projection on 
the part of one, and a mental reception or grasping on 
the part of the other. If this be the case, we must con- 
ceive the thought as met, as it were, in space, and in 
some way joined or seized upon by the percipient 
thought; but how can we conceive such seizing or such 
perception ? 

It will be seen that the problems arising from a study 
of telepathy are numerous and remarkable. Let us 
briefly summarize the chief theories which have been 
advanced to date. These are : 

1. The Theory of Exalted Perception. — This is, that 
the subject is in some manner enabled to see the thoughts 
of his "magnetizer" or hypnotist. This explanation 
applies only to those telepathic manifestations observed 
when the percipient is in a state of trance; and even 
here the theory cannot be said to explain, for it explains 
one mystery by propounding another. 

2. The Hypothesis of Brain Exaltation with Paralysis 
of the Senses. — On this theory, a sort of sympathetic 



228 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

action and reaction or rapport is supposed to take place, 
but of the exact nature of this process its exponents can 
tell us nothing. Again, it only evades the direct issue 
and answers one problem by asking another. 

3. The Hypothesis of Direct Psychic Action. — This is 
the view whose ablest exponent is Mr. Frederic Myers. 
It is supposed that such action takes place in its own 
world — its own sphere — just as distinct and just as 
real as the material world. If this were true we could 
never demonstrate the action of telepathy scientifically, 
since it would be beyond the reach of such demonstra- 
tion. Others again believe that the action of telepathy 
is akin to the phenomena of induction; others that it is 
akin to gravitation or the magnetic force. While the 
details of these theories are lacking, there is here a 
valuable suggestion and a field for future research. 

4. The Hypothesis of Direct Physical Action. — This 
supposes that the molecular changes in one brain, ac- 
companying thought or emotion, set certain ether vi- 
brations in motion, which are caught up by another 
brain, sensitive enough to receive them, or attuned to 
the proper degree. This theory is one which appeals 
to most persons, though it is open to the criticisms be- 
fore raised. Nevertheless, it may be true; and if so, 
its law ought one day to be discovered. There is here 
also a field for legitimate scientific research. 

5. The Idea of a Universal Fluid. — This is the theory 
held to by the majority of mystics and occultists. 
There is supposed to exist a sort of fluidic intermediary 
between mind and mind, which acts as the means for 
thought transmission, and it is upon this that all thought 
is impressed. It acts as a sort of mirror, which reflects 



THE PROBLEMS OF TELEPATHY 229 

the thoughts of all living persons, just as a material 
mirror might reflect material objects. In such a case, 
the thought is really made objective and is perceived by 
the subject in a sort of clairvoyant manner. I do not 
feel competent to pronounce upon this hypothesis in the 
present embryonic state of psychical science. 

6. The Theory of Spiritual Intermediaries. — This is 
the theory that our thoughts are read by some purely 
"spiritual" process, by "spirits," who convey this 
thought to another individual and impress him in some 
psychical manner directly. They thus act as carrier- 
pigeons between mind and mind. To this theory it may 
be replied, as Professor Flournoy has replied in his 
Spiritism, and Psychology, that it represents the grave 
methodological defect of multiplying causes without 
necessity; by postulating spirits and importing them 
into the problem when they are not wanted. It would 
be better to seek an explanation elsewhere. 

7. The Psycho-Physical Theory. — This theory supposes 
that all thought is accompanied by nervous undulations, 
which are carried to the surface of the body, there set- 
ting the ether in vibration; and this, in turn, impinges 
upon the periphery of another person, particularly sen- 
sitive to receive them, and by him retransformed into 
nervous currents — into thought! Such a theory com- 
pletely fails to take into account those cases of long- 
distance telepathy, of which so many have now been 
collected ; and in other ways is very defective. 

8. Assuming all the above theories to be insufficient, 
we now come to : 



230 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

The Elements of a Scientific Explanation 

In studying this subject we must remember certain 
things : 

(a) That telepathy is a highly complex phenomenon, 
and for that reason we must not expect to find its so- 
lution easily or state it in a single sentence. 

(&) That we must consider it from the double stand- 
point, physical and mental; and 

(c) That we must consider the conditions affecting 
the operator, the subject, and, if possible, the connec- 
tion between them. 

All scientific explanation consists in reducing the un- 
known to terms of the known. "We can often classify 
a phenomenon without being able to explain its inner- 
most nature. If we discover its laws, we have advanced 
to that extent. 

Dr. J. Ochorowicz, who has made a prolonged and 
minute study of this question, writes as follows regard- 
ing the necessary conditions to be observed in the oper- 
ator: 

' ' On the side of the operator the conditions have been 
very little studied. But it is probable: 

"1. That there are personal differences. 

"2. That these differences may be due not only to the 
degree of thought intensity, but also to the nature of 
the thought itself, according as it is visual, auditive, or 
motor. 

"3. That some account has to be taken of a sort of 
accord, of concordance between the two intelligences. 

' ' 4. That excessive will-power impairs the definiteness 



THE PROBLEMS OF TELEPATHY 231 

of the transmission without much enhancing its inten- 
sity. 

"5. That strong, persistent, prolonged thinking of a 
thought repeated for a longer or shorter time constitutes 
a condition in the highest degree favourable. 

"6. That any distraction which causes the thought to 
disappear for a moment, or that makes it cease to be 
isolated, seems eminently unfavourable to the mental 
action. 

"7. That, nevertheless, thoughts that are not intense, 
and even thoughts that are at the moment unconscious 
(subconscious), may be transmitted involuntarily. 

"8. That the muscular efforts which usually accom- 
pany an exertion of will are more or less indifferent; 
but that the muscle expression of the operator may be 
useful, subjectively, by reason of the habitude that con- 
nects thought with these expressional signs. 

"It follows from these considerations that the oper- 
ator should insist less upon the 'I will it' than upon the 
content of that willing; and hence it is probable that, 
properly speaking, it is not the 'strong will' that helps 
telepathy so much as clear thinking." 

As to the subject or percipient, experience has taught 
us that the four following states are probably the most 
important for the recipience of a telepathic message: 

1. In the state of profound aideia (complete lack of 
thought) transmission is never immediate, but it may 
sometimes be latent. 

2. In the state of nascent monoideism (one idea) it 
may be immediate and perfect. 

3. In the state of passive polyideism (many thoughts) 



232 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

it may be either immediate or may take place after an 
interval of greater or lesser length. 

4. In the state of active polyideism the conditions are 
complex and subject to further subdivisions, for: 

(a) Transmission may be direct if the subject helps 
by voluntary self-absorption in a concentration of mind 
more or less monoideic; he lends himself to the action; 
he listens mentally; he seeks, sometimes he finds! 

(&) It may be indirect, i. e. latent ; this time also with 
some concurrence on the part of the subject. This 
seems more frequent. 

(c) Finally, it may in exceptional instances be either 
mediate (delayed) or immediate, even without the sub- 
ject's being advised beforehand of the action. 

Here, then, are the probable conditions ; also the state 
of the agent and percipient. Now what about the con- 
necting links? 

Here we come to the heart of the problem. I shall 
be as brief as possible, since we cannot pretend that the 
problem is yet solved. I merely offer a few suggestions, 
some original, others advanced before by writers on 
these subjects. 1 

In order to obtain a specific action we must employ 
a specific instrument: a telephone for a telephone; a 
brain for a brain. 

Every living thing is a dynamic focus. 

A dynamic focus tends ever to propagate the motion 
which is proper to it. 

i Especially Dr. Oehorowicz, in his excellent work, Mental Stig- 
gestion, to which I am indebted for several of the ideas which 
follow. 



THE PROBLEMS OF TELEPATHY 233 

Propagated motion becomes transformed according to 
the medium it traverses. A force may be transmitted 
or transformed. 

In an identical medium there is only transmission. 

In a different medium there is transformation. 

A dynamic nucleus, in propagating its motion, sends 
it out in every direction ; but this transmission becomes 
perceptible only on the lines of least resistance. 

A process that is at once chemical, physical, and psy- 
chical goes on in the brain. A complex action of this 
kind is propagated through the grey matter, as waves 
are propagated in water. 

Regarded physiologically, a thought is only a vibra- 
tion, probably, which does not pass out of its appro- 
priate medium. It is propagated, and it must be along 
the motor nerves, since science admits no other route. 
But the thought itself does not radiate; it remains "at 
home," just as the chemical action of a battery remains 
in the battery; it is represented abroad by its dynamic 
correlate, called, in the case of the battery, a current; 
and in the case of the brain, I know not what ; but what- 
ever its name may be, it is the dynamic correlate of 
thought. Thought, therefore, is dynamic. Thought is 
transformed; and may be re-transformed, in another 
organism which supplies the necessary conditions. 
Thought may be restored. 

We have now reached, from a purely physiological 
standpoint, a position which I desired to reach before 
I advance the final part of the theory — which may at 
first sight appear somewhat fantastic. But telepathy 
itself is fantastic ; and yet, being a fact, it must be ac- 
counted for somehow, or left altogether unexplained. 



234 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

It has always been contended by a peculiarly-gifted 
group of individuals known as "clairvoyants," that we 
possess a "spiritual body" — just as we possess a phys- 
ical body — of exactly the same shape and appearance; 
and that we inhabit this body at death. It is further 
contended that all our physical senses find their exact 
counterpart in this "etheric double"; there is a phys- 
ical eye and a spiritual eye ; a physical ear and a spirit- 
ual ear, etc. With the spiritual eye we see "clairvoy- 
antly"; with the spiritual ear we hear " clairaudiently, " 
and so forth. I shall not discuss the possibility of such 
a body, except to say that there is now a mass of evi- 
dence in its favour. Assuming it to exist — assuming 
it to be the exact counterpart of the physical body — 
then it too possesses a brain; and it too must pulsate 
and vibrate just as the physical brain does, when ac- 
companying thought. 

Now this inner body may be the vehicle of thought. 
It may possess "centres" whose normal office is to send 
and receive telepathic messages. One "etheric centre" 
may thus act upon another "etheric centre" directly 
— only indirectly upon the physical brain cells. The 
action would thus be dynamic, yet psychical; physical 
in a sense, yet not physical as we conceive it. Phi- 
losophy tells us that the table we see (the phenomenon) 
is not the "real" table (the noumenon) — the reality 
behind; but, if we knock the two tables together, the 
noumena touch, just as the phenomenal tables do; only 
we have no means of knowing or directly seeing it. 
Thus there is a sort of physical communication of a 
spiritual thing. Those who have entered rooms of a 
certain character have often sensed their "psychic at- 



THE PROBLEMS OF TELEPATHY 235 

mosphere. ' ' This is a sort of duplicate or replica of the 
physical atmosphere, yet it is different from it. The 
whole subject is so subtle that one cannot follow it un- 
less he has had some experience or some knowledge of 
these things. The process cannot be explained in clear- 
cut fashion — any more than mediums can tell the source 
of their thoughts and impressions. A little intuition is 
needed in order to grasp the problem and comprehend 
its difficulties. 

Were I to try and state my theory briefly, then it 
would be somewhat as follows: Every thought necessi- 
tates a three-fold phenomenon — (1) the purely psychic 
activity; (2) the physiological correlate; and (3) the 
"dynamic correlate," which is as yet unrecognized by 
science. This "dynamic correlate" is the manifesta- 
tion of the activity of the etheric double ; which sets into 
motion certain vibratory activities which, though they 
are not physical vibrations, are their counterpart or 
equivalent on the plane above matter — the "astral" 
plane, if the term be allowable ; which is parallel to, but 
not identical with, the material plane. Thus by a sort 
of "doctrine of correspondences" we arrive at the con- 
clusion that telepathic action is physical, in a sense, yet 
is not sufficiently physical to be measured by our in- 
struments in the laboratory. The activity is, as it were, 
the noumenon, of which the physical vibration would be 
the phenomenon; but no phenomenal aspect of this ac- 
tivity may ever be manifested to us ; and hence never be 
capable of being registered by science, as it exists to- 
day. 

I do not know whether or not I have made this 
theory very comprehensible, but it seems to me some 



236 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

such theory might explain the facts and at the same 
time do away with the difficulties. At all events no 
theory of telepathy which has been advanced to date 
can be said to be explanatory, when all the facts are 
taken into consideration ; and if this first tentative grop- 
ing serves to stimulate others to speculate, and above all 
to experiment, in this obscure field, I shall feel that a 
first onward step has been taken toward a correct under- 
standing of the ' ' Marvels of Telepathy. ' ' 



CHAPTER IX 

THE USES AND ABUSES OF MIND-CURE 

Within the past few years the country has-been flooded 
by a host of books, pamphlets, and periodicals dealing 
with "psychotherapy" and mind-cure in general. In 
some ways it would be impossible to exaggerate the 
good which this has done. It has cheered-up many 
desponding souls ; it has brightened many a life ; it has 
stimulated activities and lines of thought which other- 
wise would have remained dormant; it has added real 
zest to life and made it worth living. Undoubtedly, 
too, real cures have been effected by means of these 
modern mental methods, and any one who denies this 
must surely be ignorant of the vast amount of steadily 
accumulating evidence in their favour. The many ad- 
vantages of the system are doubtless pointed out with 
acuteness and insisted upon with vigour in the books 
which defend it, and need not be re-stated here. And 
yet, while I acknowledge all this; while I am forced 
to admit the many wonderful cures and much mental 
relief on account of these newer methods of healing, 
I still believe that a vast amount of harm is also brought 
about by the incautious application of the doctrines 
taught; by over-enthusiasm for the ideals which are 
ever before us, luring us on and on. In the present 
chapter, therefore, I propose to show in what these pit- 

237 



238 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

falls consist; to illustrate some of the errors into which 
over-enthusiastic " mental-curists " are apt to fall. 

First of all, however, a confession of faith! For a 
number of years I believed as implicitly as it was 
possible for any one to believe in the great power of 
mind to cure disease. I read nearly every book of 
importance that had been published on this theme — 
including Mrs. Eddy's books, all the standard works on 
hypnotism, mind-cure, faith-cure, new thought, etc. I 
was deeply imbued with the truths they contained. I 
became greatly opposed to the so-called "materialism" 
of medical science. The rationality and philosophical 
truth of the mind-cure systems appeared to me irrefut- 
able. 

The fundamentals of the system are indeed well laid. 
"We know of the tremendous effects of the emotions upon 
the body — its functions, secretions, etc. Cheering faith 
and optimism are assuredly great incentives to health; 
more than that, they are actual physiological health- 
stimulators. We know that we can make ourselves ill 
by morbid and unwholesome thoughts; and, as Feuch- 
tersleben says: "If the imagination can make man sick, 
can it not make him well?" By opening up the great 
"sluice-gates" of the organism we somehow allow a 
great influx of spiritual energy to pervade us, and the 
disease vanishes. It is a very fascinating doctrine, and, 
for many diseases, doubtless a true one. 

In spite of all this, however, I believe the present 
tendency to treat all diseases — or next to all — by purely 
mental methods is a great mistake. It leaves many 
persons ill and crippled for life; it allows many hun- 
dreds of others to sink and fall into premature graves. 



USES AND ABUSES OF MIND-CURE 239 

And the first objection I would make to mind and 
faith-curing, and all kindred systems, is this: that they 
tend to suppress symptoms rather than remove causes. 
This is a very grave objection indeed. If one suffers 
constantly from constipation or dyspepsia, the natural 
habit of the mind would be to worry about them more 
or less and take steps to prevent their continued prog- 
ress. But the faith and mind-curists say: "No, it is 
not at all important; imagine yourself whole and well, 
and whole and well you will be ! " Many persons have 
done this and their troubles have, apparently, lessened 
and disappeared. They may have and they may not. 
It is easy to ignore troubles of this kind; but this sort 
of ostrich-philosophy, which buries its head in the sand 
and refuses to look at what is before its eyes, is not 
natural or by any means the best for the bodily organ- 
ism. Ignoring symptoms does not cure them. What 
such persons fail to take into account is this: that any 
unpleasant symptom which may have arisen must be 
due to some cause — sickness and disease do not arise 
de novo and without just cause. This is not the order 
of a good and kind nature. It must be due to something, 
and generally that "something" is the condition of the 
body at the time; and that condition depends, in turn, 
upon the previous habits and modes of life. These have 
engendered the diseased condition we see before us ; and 
the only effective and rational way to stop the effects — 
the symptoms — is to stop the causes, to change the 
habits of life which have led to such results; and not 
to tinker with the effects. Even pain may be ignored 
to some extent ; but pain is due to a certain pathological 
state which requires treatment. It is simply an indica- 



240 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

tion of an existing bodily condition. "What is the good 
of ignoring that state, when it exists? Symptoms may 
be ignored, but the causes of those symptoms run on 
in the body, nevertheless, and in the end work havoc 
and breed sickness and decay. 

I am aware of the fact that the Christian Scientists, 
e. g., would reply to this that the bodily state (there is 
no body, according to them, but we let that pass, for 
the moment) is cured at the same time; that, by the 
mere affirmation that the body is whole, we thereby make 
it whole; we do not suppress symptoms, we remove 
causes as well. This I deny, at least in many cases. 
I have seen too many of such "cures" and relapses 
not to know whereof I speak. A patient goes to a 
"healer" and becomes "cured." A few weeks or 
months later his trouble returns; or, if not the same 
trouble, another and perhaps a worse one. This is 
"cured" in turn, and so on. 

Now it is a well-known fact that a disease suppressed 
in one place or one direction has a tendency to break 
out in another. It has been gathering in force all the 
time within the body, and finally bursts forth again 
worse than before. "And the last state of that man was 
worse than the first." The causes have run on. Sim- 
ilar causes can produce opposite effects — just as oppo- 
site causes can produce similar effects. Although no 
tangible connection between the first and the second ill- 
ness can be traced, it is there nevertheless; and both 
have been produced by a common cause. We cannot 
ignore causes; we must treat them; and if we do not, 
they will, in the majority of cases, repay us a thousand- 
fold for our past neglect. 



USES AND ABUSES OF MIND-CURE 241 

When a person is diseased the majority of mental- 
scientists would at least admit that certain unphysio- 
logical conditions were present and needed to be over- 
come. If this be so, I ask: Why should we allow the 
body to become diseased at all and thus necessitate its 
cure by mental or any other means? Would it not be 
much simpler to prevent such a diseased condition, in 
the first place, by proper physiological habits of life; 
and so render any cure by mental or other means un- 
necessary? It seems to me that, by thus allowing the 
body to become diseased, and then "curing" it by men- 
tal control (even granting that this is the case), we 
burn the candle at both ends — for the reason that we 
devitalize the body by allowing it to become diseased 
and then waste more energy in the mental effort to get 
well again! Would it not be more simple and more 
philosophical so to regulate the life that such diseased 
states and such cures are unnecessary? 

The fundamentals of Mrs. Eddy's doctrine are well 
known. G-od is all in all; God is good; hence all is 
good. Sin and sickness are delusions of poor mortal 
mind. They do not really exist. And this, they say, 
may easily be proved — on the one hand by the cures 
which take place; and on the other by the doctrine 
of idealism, which philosophers and scientists alike are 
accepting more and more as a satisfactory interpreta- 
tion of the universe. The whole system is very delight- 
ful — and very illusory! 

In the first place, as to the cures. I must contend 
that because some remarkable cures have been effected, 
that, therefore, the doctrines of Christian Science are not 
thereby established. We know similar cures have been 



242 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

effected at Lourdes ; over the bones of saints (which did 
not really exist under the sacred cloth) ; over (fraudu- 
lent) "chips of the Cross"; by means of hypnotism, 
and in a hundred ways. The whole root of the matter 
lies in auto-suggestion; in the patient's faith in him- 
self, and in the degree of faith he places in the curing 
object or dogma. The dogma may be quite false, but 
the cures are effected just the same. Because cures are 
effected by Christian Science methods, therefore, it is 
no proof whatever that the Christian Science theology 
or philosophy is right. It may be one huge error, but 
the cures would be effected just the same — provided the 
faith, the emotions, the imagination and spirit of the 
patient be touched in an appropriate manner. 

True it is that science and philosophy tend towards 
idealism; and the belief that there is, strictly speaking, 
"no matter." But this belief need not make us any the 
more believers in Christian Science and its methods. 
There is a subtle error here which is unperceived by the 
majority. When first the truth reaches the mind that 
there is "no matter" that matter cannot feel, etc., it 
bursts like a flood of light upon the unfettered mind and 
appears a fact so overwhelmingly great, so vast and so 
true, that to gainsay it would be to acknowledge igno- 
rance of its teaching; to admit intellectual shortsighted- 
ness. (This is perhaps the reason for the supercilious 
superiority of many Christian Scientists ; they imagine 
that no one perceives this truth but themselves.) And 
once grasped, is it not self-evident, and does not all else 
follow in consequence? At first sight it would indeed 
appear so! 



USES AND ABUSES OF MIND-CURE 243 

The great error, however, lies here. Because this fact 
is theoretically true, it is not practically true also. We 
may admit the one; we cannot accept the other. The 
fallacy has been clearly pointed out by Sir Oliver Lodge 
(Hibbert Journal, January, 1905), and I cannot do bet- 
ter than to quote his words in this connection. He 
says: 

"We cannot be permanently satisfied with dualism, 
but it is possible to be over-hasty and also too precisely 
insistent. There are those who seem to think that a 
monistic view of existence precludes the legitimacy of 
speaking of soul and body, or of God and spiritual 
things, or of guidance and management, at all; that is 
to say, they seem to think that because these things can 
be ultimately unified, therefore they are unified proxi- 
mately and for practical purposes. We might as well 
urge that it is incorrect to speak of the chemical ele- 
ments, or of the various materials with which, in daily 
life, we have to deal, or of the structures in which we 
live, or which we see and handle, as separate and real 
things, because in the last resort we believe that they 
may all be reduced to a segregation of corpuscles, or to 
some other mode of unity. . . . The language of dualism 
or of multiplism is not incorrect or inappropriable or 
superseded because we catch ideal glimpses of an ulti- 
mate unity; nor would it be any the less appropriable 
if the underlying unity could be more clearly or com- 
pletely grasped. The material world may be an aspect 
of the spiritual world, or vice versa perhaps; or both 
may be aspects of something else ; but both are realities, 



244 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

just the same, and there need be no hesitation in speak- 
ing of them clearly and distinctly as, for practical pur- 
poses, separate entities." 

This, it seems to me, disposes of the argument for 
Christian Science drawn from idealism. No matter 
whether the material world exists or not, we always 
have to live as if it existed. If we close our eyes and 
walk across the room, we shall be rudely stopped by the 
brick wall at the opposite end when we come to it. No 
matter how strongly we believe that such a wall does not 
exist, it does, nevertheless, stop us; we have to live as if 
it existed. And, just so, it seems to me ; no matter how 
strongly we may believe that the body does not exist, we 
always have to live, and act as if it existed — so long, at 
least, as we live in and inhabit the body at all. 

Christian Science says that hygiene, diet, etc., are un- 
important factors in the cure of disease. They ' ' do not 
count." Apart from the immediate, practical disproof 
which cases of blood-poisoning, etc., would offer to such a 
theory, it may also be disproved theoretically. For if it 
be unnecessary, e. g., to fast during illness — if food is a 
negligible quantity and can be left out of account — why 
do Christian Scientists ever eat at all? If food is un- 
important in one case, it must be in the other case also. 
And if it be replied to this, as it is, that the only reason 
for food is because the Christian Scientists are not yet 
sufficiently "advanced" and have not yet sufficient "en- 
lightenment" to do without it; then, I reply, by the 
same logic they are not as yet sufficiently advanced, and 
have not as yet sufficient knowledge to treat all cases of 
accident and disease, which, in point of fact, they do 



USES AND ABUSES OF MIND-CURE 245 

treat. If the limitation be acknowledged in one direc- 
tion, it must be acknowledged in the other direction 
also. Christian Scientists cannot yet live without food 
because they have not yet sufficiently ' ' perfected ' ' them- 
selves. So, in like manner, they should not treat many 
cases of disease they do treat because they have not yet 
sufficiently "perfected" themselves. 

I might advance arguments such as the above to fill 
many pages. But I do not think it necessary. As a 
cure for certain functional diseases, for nervous disor- 
ders, and for many of the affections of the mind, mental 
methods of treatment must be acknowledged to be a 
great and a most important factor. But when an or- 
ganic lesion is present, in grave states demanding im- 
mediate attention, I think it little short of criminal 
that such states should meet with almost total neglect 
because of the perverted ideas of physiology and a sickly 
sentimentalism illogically extended from the philosoph- 
ical doctrine of idealism. As a metaphysical doctrine, it 
may be correct; as a basis for medical practice, it is 
certainly incorrect. Let us once more set our feet to 
earth and determine to live a good and a useful life in 
the material world of which we undoubtedly form a 
part. We are in a material world, and I believe we 
should be of it. I, for one, raise my voice in protest 
against the tide of intellectual asceticism which is in- 
clined to accept without question the modern doctrine 
and methods of "psychotherapy" and mind-cure in 
place of the more rational and certain measures of hy- 
giene and medicine. The further a pendulum swings 
in one direction, the further will it swing in the other, 
when released. And I believe that the modern extreme 



246 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

acceptance of faith and mind-cure in all its forms is 
but the moral and intellectual and spiritual reaction 
against the materialism of the past generation. Hail 
the day when it again swings back to its mid-position; 
and when mental methods of cure and bodily hygiene 
shall together march hand in hand to the joint attack 
against disease! They each have their mission to ful- 
fil, their cases to cure. Tolerance, tolerance ! Let them 
each recognize the rights of the other! 



CHAPTER X 

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE OUIJA BOARD * 

Before we proceed to discuss the intelligence lying be- 
hind the Ouija Board, I must offer a few remarks upon 
the subject of automatic writing in general, passing in 
very brief review the various theories that have been 
advanced from time to time by way of explanation of 
the action of this extraordinary little device. 

One of the sanest and most rational popular accounts 
of this instrument and its workings that I have so far 
come across (all things considered) is a little pam- 
phlet entitled The Planchette Mystery, very little 
known, from which I shall quote in writing this review. 
Epes Sargent's book, Planchette : the Despair of Science, 
contains in reality very little on the planchette board, 
and the title is somewhat deceptive. Mr. Myers's arti- 
cles on the subject (particularly in Proceedings of S.P.R., 
vol. ii. pp. 217-37 ; vol. iii. pp. 1-63 ; and vol. ix. pp. 
26-128) are, of course, classical, but are involved and 
inaccessible for the general reader, even had he the time 
to read them carefully; so that perhaps the following 
resume may not be unnecessary or out of place. 

It is to be presumed that every reader of this book 
knows what a Ouija Board is, and, roughly, what it 

i More properly, "the psychology of ouija board writing" or 
"of writing obtained by means of the Ouija Board." This general 
title is shorter, however, for & chapter heading. 

247 



248 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

does. How it does it is a more difficult question to an- 
swer ; in fact, it may be said that no definite answer has 
even yet been forthcoming. All that has been done, or 
that we can do, is to examine the facts, and to advance 
an explanatory theory that is really explanatory and in 
accord, as nearly as possible, with accepted theories and 
teaching. 

First, let us consider the movement of the board. 
There can be little doubt that the same force which 
propels the planchette board propels the ouija board 
also; and this is still further demonstrated by the fact 
that, in many experiments, the planchette board is used 
as a ouija, and points to the letters, which are written 
out on a large piece of paper, and the pencil point indi- 
cates the letter in the same manner as does the ouija. 
It certainly appears far easier for the board to point 
to letters than to write — and this is most suggestive 
and interesting when we consider it. It would seem 
to indicate that the controlling intelligence found it 
easier to convey its thoughts when the letters were be- 
fore it, in plain sight — a very suggestive fact, taken 
in conjunction with certain mediumistic phenomena.' 

1 1 have in mind especially one remarkable ( but hitherto un- 
published) experiment with Mrs. Piper. A certain lady of my 
acquaintance — an old Piper sitter — has tried to convey a certain 
word to "Rector" telepathically — to be given by automatic writ- 
ing through the trance. Several attempts failed. Finally, one 
day, the lady in question wrote out the word on a blackboard, 
and sat looking at it for about half an hour. The word was 
given the next day through Mrs. Piper. The blackboard was in 
the lady's own house, distant some 800 miles from Mrs. Piper, 
in Boston. This certainly seems to show that there is a peculiar 
"magic" in thoughts or things that are objectified in this man- 
ner. It serves to explain why it is that many clairvoyants can- 



PSYCHOLOGY OF THE OUIJA BOARD 249 

Of course there is the alternative explanation of this 
fact — that a straight push-and-pull action is easier to 
accomplish than the more detailed and complicated ac- 
tion of forming words and letters. Bnt that would not 
make plain to us why it is that no attempt at writing 
should be made, very often, until the letter-pointing sys- 
tem is adopted. 

Presuming, then, that the movement or impelling force 
is the same in each instance, the question is: What is 
this force? In the great bulk of cases there can only 
be one answer to this question: unconscious muscular 
action. Whenever muscular contact is allowed, this 
may safely be assumed to be the explanation of the 
movements of the board — even if it shows an apparently 
independent will and movement of its own, and appar- 
ently drags the hands of the sitters with it. I have dis- 
cussed this at some length in my Physical Phenomena 
of Spiritualism, pp. 66-72, and it is unnecessary to go 
into the question again here. Unconscious muscular ac- 
tion will account for so much that, even if it were not 
the true explanation of the facts, in reality, we should 
have to assume that it was. 

It will be observed that I have said "in the great 
bulk of cases." Some of my readers may object to this 
limitation, and say that it is the true and sufficient ex- 
planation of all the cases, without exception. Person- 
ally I doubt that fact. There are numerous cases on 
record when the board has continued to write after the 
hands of all the sitters have been removed from it. 

not read thoughts and questions — e. g., until written out on 
paper — as in the case of Bert Reese, whom I have frequently 
seen. 



250 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

Now, if there be operative a force which has been in 
some way generated during the sitting, it is quite pos- 
sible, of course, that this same force may be operative 
in those cases where contact is allowed, only it is diffi- 
cult to prove that fact. 1 Personally I have no difficulty 
in conceiving such a force or power, at least theoret- 
ically. This force may be the first glimmerings of the 
force whose more powerful manifestations we see in the 
movements of tables (witness Gasparin's experiments, 
e.g.), and ultimately in telekinetic phenomena, as, for 
example, in the Palladino case. This would seem to in- 
dicate that such forces and powers are possessed by 
every one in a limited degree, but that it is only in 
certain individuals that it becomes so marked and ex- 
traordinary that it produces the phenomena spoken of 
above. 

Granting, then, for the sake of argument, that the 
board is moved by the sitter, either consciously or un- 
consciously; by unconscious muscular action or by some 
"fluid" emanating from his fingers (and we must re- 
member that even were a spirit using the writer's organ- 
ism to manifest through, it must use the muscular and 
motor system), the great and vital question still re- 
mains: What is the intelligence behind the board that 
directs the phenomena? Who does the writing? What 
is the source of the information so often given? 

Let us first consider the theory held by a very large 
number of persons — that the board is moved by some 
kind of "electricity." We must suppose that the gen- 
erally recognized electricity is meant, because, if not, 
the motive force would be electricity plus something, 

1 Dr. W. J. Crawford's experiments have since confirmed this. 



PSYCHOLOGY OF THE OUIJA BOARD 251 

and the "something" would be the explanation. And 
yet, if the force moving the board be [ ' electricity, ' ' how- 
comes it that this "electricity" can answer back, and 
possess an individuality so independent from that of the 
writer; capable, too, of giving a vast mass of informa- 
tion to the sitters, on occasion, of which they knew noth- 
ing? Then, again,- it must be remembered that a ouija 
or planchette is almost universally made of wood — not 
metal or any well-known good conductor of electricity, 
but of wood — which is generally recognized to be an ex- 
ceedingly bad conductor. Obviously the theory is ab- 
surd. And when we come to remember those cases in 
which the board gave information previously unknown 
to the writer having his hands on the board at the time, 
the theory sinks into its proper place — oblivion. 

Then there is the theory of a floating, ambient men- 
tality. This theory is held by many, and it is contended 
by them that this mentality is clothed, by some mys- 
terious process, with a force similar to that which it 
possessed in the living organism; and that, in its expres- 
sion of the combined intelligence of the circle, it gener- 
ally follows the strongest mind, or the mind that is best 
qualified or conditioned to give correctly the thought. 
This theory found its champion in the person of Dr. 
Joseph Maxwell (see his Metapsychical Phenomena), 
and must be taken into account seriously. But an ob- 
jection, and to my mind a fatal objection, to this theory 
is the fact that the intelligence seems to possess, not a 
collective but a decidedly personal character — one which 
is sufficiently stable and individual to argue back and 
to maintain its own opinions and beliefs in the face of 
great opposition from all the members of the circle. 



252 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

Is there anything in all this that suggests a floating, 
compound mentality; or does it not rather bear the 
marks of being a theory made up for the occasion, in 
order to evade some alternative explanation, objection- 
able, perhaps, to the sitters or critics? 

All that has been said above also applies to the theory 
of a spiritus mundi, or spirit of the universe, which 
formed so large a part in the cosmological theories of 
many ancient philosophers. It is supposed to be a sort 
of all-pervading nervous principle, having, however, a 
mind of its own, when occasion demands — for other- 
wise how are the results to be accounted for? I think 
this and the preceding theory can best be met, perhaps, 
by asking its supporters to produce one iota of evidence 
in its behalf. When this has been forthcoming it will 
be time enough to consider it seriously. 

Then there is the theory that the unconscious muscular 
action of the sitters is the cause of the movement and 
writing. This has been considered before, and it was 
pointed out that, even granting for the sake of argument 
that the board was actually moved by this means, the 
question still remains: How are we to account for the 
mentality behind the movement — especially when facts 
are given unknown to all the members of the circle? 
(For an example of this see Proceedings, S.P.R., vol. ix. 
pp. 93-8.) 

The question thus arises: What did the writing? 
The theory of unconscious muscular action has been con- 
sidered, and found not to explain all the facts. Many 
might contend that the board was moved by a principle 
or force as yet unknown, and think the question settled 
in that way. Of course this is a mere begging of t.be 



PSYCHOLOGY OF THE OUIJA BOARD 253 

question, for all practical purposes, because, if the ex- 
planation were known, there would be no mystery and 
no argument about it. But the mere statement that the 
board is operated by a force as yet unknown merely 
restates the problem, without in any way attempting to 
solve it, and hence leaves us precisely where we were. 
Certainly this theory will not do ! 

Undoubtedly, the simplest explanation — and the cor- 
rect one — for the majority of the facts is that the sub- 
conscious mind is alone responsible for them. Thoughts, 
images, reflections, imaginations, tend to externalize or 
express themselves in this manner, — in motor avenues, — 
through the movement of the board. The vast majority 
of ouija board "communications" are to be accounted 
for in this way. But what of those other (relatively 
rare) cases in which supernormal information, unknown 
to the sitter, is obtained ? Any theory which is advanced 
must explain these cases also, as well as the movement 
of the board, and pure subconscious activity does not. 
We should still have to account for this knowledge, un- 
known to the writer ; so that we shall have to seek further 
yet, in order to discover the true cause of the intelligence 
doing the writing. 

"We seem to be driven, then, into one of two alterna- 
tives: (1) that unconscious muscular action pushed the 
board, and that the supernormal information given was 
obtained by telepathy, clairvoyance, etc.; or (2) that 
spirits did the writing. Let us examine each of these 
hypotheses in turn a little more carefully. It seems to 
me that the first theory is practically unable to account 
in any satisfactory way for many communications that 
have been received. On the other hand, it would be 



254 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

perfectly absurd to invoke the agency of "spirits" for 
every one of the messages that have been written out — 
I mean supernormal messages. On the contrary, there 
are many experiments that point to clairvoyance or te- 
lepathy as the true explanation. It is highly probable, 
it seems to me, that the same agency is not involved on 
every occasion, but that there may be spirits (granting 
such to exist) on some occasions; telepathy and clairvoy- 
ance on other occasions; and purely unconscious mus- 
cular action on most occasions, when no supernormal is 
involved. It is only the prevailing tendency to cover 
all facts by a single explanation that has led to the diffi- 
culty. If we were willing to admit that there may be 
operative many different influences and causes, on dif- 
ferent occasions, it seems to me that much of the diffi- 
culty would vanish. 

There can be no doubt as to the fact that the ouija 
board is a far more mysterious little instrument than 
the majority of persons suppose — or rather, the forces 
and the mentalities behind the movement of the board 
are exceedingly complex, and but little understood. As 
the author of The Planchette Mystery said: "A won- 
derful jumble of mental and moral possibilities is this 
little piece of dead matter, now giving utterance to 
childish drivel, now bandying jokes and badinage, now 
stirring the conscience by unexceptionable Christian ad- 
monitions, and now uttering the baldest infidelity or the 
most shocking profanity; and often discoursing gravely 
on science, philosophy, or theology." Any theory that 
is advanced to explain the facts must take all this into 
consideration, and much more. Let us turn for a few 



PSYCHOLOGY OF THE OUIJA BOARD 255 

minutes to consider the automatic script, as frequently 
obtained. 

There are, very frequently, answers to mental ques- 
tions — questions, too, the answer to which none of those 
having their hands on the board could possibly know. 
Often, again, remarks are volunteered conveying infor- 
mation not possessed by any one of the writers. The 
distinct characterization of a personality is frequently 
seen, — and a personality of a very detestable sort. The 
language employed, frequently, is quite unprintable. 
The "ouija" lies as coolly and confidently as it tells the 
truth; in fact, it is dogmatically positive that its state- 
ments are correct in every case, even when they are 
glaringly incorrect at the very time they are written. 
This spirit of dogmatism is shown in many passages, 
and suggests to us the attempt at domineering on the 
part of an intelligence unused to such a position, and 
rejoicing in its supremacy. 

I wish to insist primarily upon the action of the board 
itself, and its apparently human characteristics — quite 
apart from any information which it volunteers; and 
this will be of the greater interest, I fancy, for the rea- 
son that such observations have, to the best of my 
knowledge, rarely been made. I can perhaps best illus- 
trate my point by giving a few concrete examples. 

There can be no question that the board has moods. 
It gets angry on occasion, for example, and at such 
times will tear round the table like a living thing, point- 
ing first to one letter and then to another, and accen- 
tuating its meaning or calling attention to certain let- 
ters that are important, or that have been omitted in 



256 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

the rapid spelling, by rapping impatiently on the latter 
with the point — the point being lifted off the board at 
such times half an inch or so, and the board remaining 
planted on its two hind legs. I have seen the front leg 
of the board rap a dozen or so times on a letter that 
had been omitted; and sometimes the board would get 
so violent that it had to be quieted — just as the hand 
in automatic writing has to be quieted. Then, again, 
the board gets a certain "technique" of its own, acting 
in certain ways on certain occasions, and in other ways 
on other occasions; and frequently assuming a perfectly 
definite form of movement with certain persons — a cer- 
tain sweep or an erratic manner of pointing to letters 
which it maintains uniformly so long as that person has 
his or her hands on the board. Occasionally the ouija 
will assume a different personality, according to the 
communicating intelligence, and not according to the 
person having his hands on the board. Just as raps 
or tables assume distinct personalities (see Dr. Max- 
well's book for examples of this), so the ouija board 
assumes a perfectly definite personality, on occasion, 
and moves and writes according to that personality's 
idiosyncrasies. And this becomes all the more marked 
when we take into account certain peculiarities of the 
board — for example, its unwillingness to give names and 
dates, or to furnish any definite information about it- 
self. I have observed over and over again that, when- 
ever the intelligence doing the writing is closely ques- 
tioned about itself, it will become angry, and refuse to 
give this information — either sulking or swearing at the 
writers. On the other hand, the board has some good 
points. It refused to disclose secrets about other persons, 



PSYCHOLOGY OF THE OUIJA BOARD 257 

and got angry in the same way when pressed. Another 
exceedingly interesting and suggestive thing is that the 
intelligence operating the board occasionally gets tired. 
"Give me a rest now" is an expression frequently ob- 
served, and would seem to indicate that the "intelli- 
gence" gets confused and fatigued by the very process 
of communicating its thoughts — just as the "controls" 
do in the Piper case. 

The very movements of the board frequently showed 
great skill and intelligence also; for instance, if the 
ouija encountered a rough or uneven place in the paper 
on one occasion it would always avoid crossing that 
spot in the future, and would go carefully round it, so 
as to avoid catching its legs in the hole or rough place 
in the paper. Still more striking was the manner in 
which the board pointed to certain letters on occasion. 
Many times the board was unable to point to a certain 
letter because the point of the ouija was in an awkward 
position, or on the edge of the table, or for some other 
reason. On such occasions the board backed one of its 
hind legs around until one of these legs pointed to the 
desired letter! Those having their hands on the board 
had many a hearty laugh over these antics, and par- 
ticularly this one, which always reminded them of a 
horse backing itself round in this ludicrous way. It 
was always entirely unexpected, and was the source of 
great amusement. But what was the intelligence guid- 
ing the board when the only person having her hands 
upon it was not looking at its antics, or paying atten- 
tion to what it was spelling out? Was it a spirit? If 
so, how did it manage to move the board? Did it act 
directly upon the matter of the board, and push it 



258 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

with its hands, as a material being would push it, or 
did it act in some more mysterious manner? Granting, 
for the sake of argument, that a spirit of some sort was 
involved in the production of the writing, how are we 
to assume its interaction with the matter of the board 
and its movements? 

Two theories will at once present themselves to the 
reader: (1) that the spirit acts directly upon the matter 
of the ouija board, and pushes it as any mortal would 
push it; and (2) that the spirit acts only through the 
brain and nervous and muscular system of the person or 
persons having their hands on the board. I leave these 
for the present, because they have been discussed so 
often before. The following is the ouija board's own 
theory of such action — so we can at least listen to it 
with interest. In the course of some writing obtained, 
the following explanation of the action of the board was 
given by the "spirits" controlling it. I quote from the 
record : 

". . . Two spirits can always, when it is in divine 
order, readily communicate with each other, because 
they can always bring themselves into direct rapport at 
some one or more points. Though matter is widely dis- 
creted from spirit, in that the one is dead and the other 
is alive, yet there is a certain correspondence between 
the two, and between the degrees of the one and the 
degrees of the other; and according to this correspond- 
ence, relation, or rapport, spirit may act upon matter. 
Thus your spirit, in all its degrees and faculties, is in 
the closest rapport with all the degrees of matter com- 
posing your body, and for this reason alone is able to 



PSYCHOLOGY OF THE OUIJA BOARD 259 

move it as it does, which it will no longer be able to do 
when that rapport is destroyed by what you call death. 
Through your body it is en rapport with and is able to 
act upon surrounding matter. If, then, you are in a 
susceptible condition, a spirit can not only get into 
rapport with your spirit, and through it with your 
body, and control its motions, or even suspend your 
own proper action and external consciousness by en- 
trancement; but if you are at the same time en rapport 
with this little board it can, through contact of your 
hands, get into rapport with that, and move it without 
any conscious or volitional agency on your part. Fur- 
thermore, under certain favourable conditions, a spirit 
may, through your sphere and body combined, come into 
rapport even with the spheres of the ultimate particles 
of material bodies near you, and thence with the parti- 
cles and the whole bodies themselves — and may thus, 
even without contact of your hands, move them or make 
sounds upon them as has often been witnessed. Its 
action, as before said, ceases where the rapport ceases; 
and if communications from really intelligent spirits 
have sometimes been defective as to the quality of the 
intelligence manifested, it is because there has been 
found nothing in the medium which could be brought 
into rapport or correspondence with the more elevated 
ideas of the spirit. The spirit, too, in frequent in- 
stances, is unable to prevent its energizing influences 
from being diverted by the reactive power of the medium 
into the channels of the imperfect types of thought and 
expression that are established in his mind, and it is 
for this simple reason that the communication is as you 
say often tinctured with the peculiarities of the medium, 



260 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

and even sometimes is nothing more than a reproduc- 
tion of the mental states of the latter — perhaps greatly 
intensified. ' ' 

Such is the theory originated by "ouija" itself — in- 
genious enough, if not very scientific. The majority of 
my readers will probably prefer to believe, either that 
some external intelligence moved the board directly; or 
that the sitter himself did so — from purely subconscious 
motives, or because he was thereby externalizing or act- 
ing as the channel for the expression of ideas imparted to 
him from without. In view of the reality of physical 
phenomena, I should be inclined to leave the question 
open as to which of these two interpretations is correct 
in any specific case. But there can be no doubt that, 
in most instances at least, the board is moved by the 
subconscious muscular activity of the sitter; and this 
is the most sane and rational view to take until definite 
proof to the contrary be forthcoming. 



CHAPTER XI 

WITCHCRAFT: ITS FACTS AND FOLLIES 

It has frequently been pointed out that "where there 
is so much smoke there must be some fire"; also that 
there is, probably, and almost necessarily, some grain of 
truth in any popular superstition, no matter how ab- 
surd it may appear at first sight. This is not less true 
of witchcraft — though it would be difficult to convince 
the average person, in all probability, that there was 
anything connected with it but the grossest and most 
repulsive superstition. Taken all in all, it most as- 
suredly is that, and very little else; and, before pro- 
ceeding to examine the residuum of truth that probably 
exists in connection with this subject, it will be well for 
us briefly to examine the other and darker side of this 
curious relic of mediaeval superstition, and to see it in 
its most sombre hues. A belief for which more than 
nine million persons were either burned or hanged since 
it sprang into being; in whose cause five hundred per- 
sons were executed in three months in 1515 in Geneva 
alone, is not to be put aside as unworthy of a moment's 
consideration ; but should, on the contrary, be considered 
as a most extraordinary and lasting delusion — helping 
to colour the times in which it occurred and influence 
the whole course of a nation's history. 

The first trial for sorcery in England was in King 

261 



262 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

John 's reign ; the last within the past two hundred years. 
In England, America, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, 
Russia — every country without exception — witches have 
lived, flourished, and been burned at the stake. Laws 
were enacted against witches, and they were condemned 
on the most trivial and even ridiculous evidence imagin- 
able. If an old woman were seen to enter a house by 
the front door, and a black cat was seen to leave the 
house by the back door, it was deemed sufficient evi- 
dence that the old woman was a witch, without further 
evidence or investigation — and indeed much of the evi- 
dence was not nearly so good and circumstantial as 
this! When a witch was caught, she was questioned 
and generally tortured ; but it was soon ascertained that 
torture was a very unfair and unsafe method of ex- 
tracting the truth (here as elsewhere), for the reason 
that a weak soul, even if innocent, might confess, and 
a strong and stubborn one would hold out and contend 
for her innocence to the last, whether guilty or not. 
For these reasons, it was finally given up before the 
burning was abolished. 

Witches were supposed to be possessed of the most 
extraordinary powers for evil; they could bewitch a 
man, woman or child — even the cows and flocks — by 
casting an "evil eye" upon them, by uttering an im- 
precation, or in other ways casting a spell upon them. 
This power was derived directly from the devil himself, 
with whom witches were supposed to be in direct com- 
pact; consequently their influence was all for evil. 
These deeds were practised daily throughout the year; 
but every year there was a grand meeting of the demons 
and witches — a "Sabbath," as it was called — and here 



WITCHCRAFT 263 

were recounted all the evil deeds of the past year, and 
here the witches saw and conversed with the devil him- 
self, and received their instructions from him. It would 
be almost impossible to conceive a more grotesque and 
gruesome picture than some of these Sabbaths were sup- 
posed to be: every impossible and inconceivable thing 
that man's mind could invent was apparently attributed 
to these meetings. In order to form some faint idea of 
men's beliefs in those days, I quote the following, sup- 
posedly from a more or less contemporary account, of 
what actually transpired at these Sabbaths: 

"A witch should be an old woman with a wrinkled 
face, a furred brow, a hairy lip, a gobber tooth, a squint 
eye, a squeaky voice, a scolding tongue, having a ragged 
coat on her back, a skull cap on her head, a spindle in 
her hand, a dog or cat by her side. There are three 
classes or divisions of devils — black, grey, and white. 
The first are omnipotent for evil, but powerless for good. 
The white have power to help, but not to hurt. The 
grey are efficient for both good and evil. . . . The modes 
of bewitching are: by casting an evil eye (fascinating) ; 
by making representations of a person to be acted upon 
in wax or clay, roasting this image before a fire; by 
mixing magical ointments, or other compositions or in- 
gredients; or sometimes merely by uttering an impreca- 
tion. . . . "Witches can ride in sieves on the sea, on 
brooms, or spits, magically prepared. The meeting of 
the witches is held every Friday night — between Friday 
and Saturday. . . . They steal children from the grave, 
boil them with lime till all the flesh is loosed from the 
bones, and is reduced to one mass. They make of the 



264 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

firm part an ointment, and fill a bottle with the fluid; 
and whosoever drinks this with due ceremony belongs 
to the league, and is capable of bewitching. . . . Every 
year a grand Sabbath is held or ordered for celebration 
on the Blocksberg Mountains, for the night before the 
1st of May. Witches congregate from all parts, and 
meet at a place where four roads meet, in a rugged 
mountain range, or in the neighbourhood of a secluded 
lake or some dark forest ; these are the spots selected for 
the meeting. . . . 

"When orders have been issued for the meeting of 
the Sabbath, all the wizards and witches who fail to 
attend it are lashed by demons with a rod made of 
serpents and scorpions. In France and England the 
witches ride upon broomsticks; but in Italy and Spain 
the Devil himself, in the shape of a goat, supports them 
on his back, which lengthens or shortens according to 
the number of witches he is desirous of accommodating. 
No witch, when proceeding to the Sabbath, can go out 
by a door or window, were she to try ever so much. 
Their general mode of ingress is by a keyhole and of 
egress by the chimney, up which they fly, broom and all, 
with the greatest ease. To prevent the absence of the 
witches being noticed by their neighbours, some inferior 
demon is commanded to assume their shapes and lie in 
their beds, feigning illness, until the Sabbath is over. 
When all the wizards and witches arrive at the place of 
rendezvous, the infernal ceremonies begin. Satan, hav- 
ing assumed his favourite shape of a large he-goat, with 
a face in front and another in his haunches, takes a seat 
upon the throne ; and all present in succession pay their 
respects to him and kiss him on his face behind. This 



WITCHCRAFT 265 

done, lie appoints a master of the ceremonies, in com- 
pany with whom he makes a personal examination of all 
the witches to see whether they have the secret mark 
upon them by which they are stamped as the Devil's 
own. The mark is always insensible to pain. Those 
who have not yet been marked receive the mark from 
the master of ceremonies — the Devil, at the same time, 
bestowing nicknames upon them. This done, they all 
begin to sing and dance in a most furious manner, until 
some one arrives who is anxious to be admitted into the 
society. They are then silent for a while until the new- 
comer has denied his salvation, kissed the Devil, spat 
upon the Bible, and sworn obedience to him in all things. 
They then begin dancing with all their might, and sing- 
ing. ... In the course of an hour or two they generally 
become wearied of this violent exercise, and then they 
all sit down and recount all their evil deeds since last 
meeting. Those who have not been malicious and mis- 
chievous enough towards their fellow-creatures receive 
personal chastisement from Satan himself, who flogs 
them with thorns and scorpions until they are covered 
with blood and unable to sit or stand. When this cere- 
mony is concluded, they are all amused by a dance of 
toads. Thousands of these creatures spring out of the 
earth, and, standing upon their hind legs, dance while 
the Devil plays the bagpipes or the trumpet. These 
toads are all endowed with the faculty of speech, and 
entreat the witches there to reward them with the flesh 
of unbaptized infants for their exertions to give them 
pleasure. The witches promise compliance. The Devil 
bids them remember to keep their word, and then, 
stamping his foot, causes all the toads to sink into the 



266 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

earth in an instant. The place being thus cleared, prep- 
arations are made for the banquet, where all manner of 
disgusting things are served and greedily devoured by 
the demons and witches — although the latter are some- 
times regaled with choice meats and expensive wines 
from golden plates and crystal goblets; but they are 
never thus favoured unless they have done an extraor- 
dinary number of evil deeds since the last period of 
meeting. After the feast they begin dancing, but such 
as have no relish for any more exercise in that way 
amuse themselves by mocking the holy sacrament of 
baptism. For this purpose the toads are again called 
and sprinkled with filthy water, the Devil making the 
sign of the cross, and the witches calling out [oath 
omitted]. When the Devil wishes to be particularly 
amused, he makes the witches strip off their clothes and 
dance before him, each with a cat tied round her neck 
and another dangling from her body in the form of a 
tail. When the cock crows they all disappear, and the 
Sabbath is ended. ..." 

There, reader, is a very fair idea of the monstrous 
form of belief held during the Middle Ages. Scarcely 
anything that was fanciful and diabolical was not con- 
jured up to the mind and said to happen at these Sab- 
baths. There was also a certain amount of ingenious 
theorizing afoot in order to account for certain facts, 
as, for instance, the cloven hoof, which it was said 
must always appear, no matter how concealed — it being 
due to the fact that the devil took the form of a goat 
so often that he finally acquired the hoof. Sir Thomas 
Browne explains it to us thus : 



WITCHCRAFT 267 

"The ground of this opinion at first might be his 
frequent appearing in the shape of a goat, which an- 
swers this description. This was the opinion of the 
Ancient Christians concerning the apparitions of the 
ancient panites, fauns, and satyrs ; and of this form we 
read of one that appeared to Anthony in the wilder- 
ness. The same is also confirmed from exposition of 
Holy Scripture. For whereas it is said, 'Thou shalt 
not offer unto devils,' the original word is Seghuirim, 
i. e., 'rough and hairy goats,' because in that shape the 
Devil most often appeared, as is expounded by the rab- 
bis, as Tremellius hath also explained: and as the word 
Ascimah, the God of Emath, is by some explained." 

It will be noted that the word "Devil" is invariably 
capitalized by the mediaeval writers, and to them he 
must have been a very real personage, and these curious 
beliefs terrible truths. Indeed, if true, what could be 
more terrible ? Even so learned a man as Bacon, we are 
told — whose soul was promised to the devil, no matter 
"whether he died in or out of the church" — endeav- 
oured to cheat the devil out of his due, and had his body 
buried in the wall of the church — thus being neither in 
nor out of it — and so he hoped to cheat the devil of his 
due! 

With the coming of Reginald Scott there arose a cer- 
tain scepticism throughout Europe, which was later 
echoed in America. Scott wrote a monumental work 
entitled The Discoverie of Witchcraft, in which he bit- 
terly attacked the credulity of the people, and showed 
himself entirely incredulous of any of the alleged phe- 
nomena. Some years before, had he published such a 



268 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

book, it was likely that he would have been burned him- 
self ; but the times were probably ripe for just such a 
publication ; there was already much unrest and uneasi- 
ness afoot, and his book appeared in the nick of time. 
Scott attempted to account for the phenomena of witch- 
craft on a rational basis, and showed himself completely 
sceptical of the reality of most of the manifestations. 
He even went so far as to attack many of the older 
' ' miracles, ' ' which apparently supported the newer, even 
taking the very bold course (in that day) of attacking 
some of the Biblical miracles. Thus we read: 

"The Pythoness (speaking of the Witch of Endor) 
being ventriloqua, that is, speaking as it were from the 
bottom of her belly, did cast herself into a trance, and 
so abused Saul in Samuel's name in her counterfeit 
hollow voice." 

Indeed, something was necessary to check the rank 
credulity of the times. If an old woman scolded a 
carter, and later on in the day his cart got stuck in 
the mud or overturned, it was positive evidence that he 
and his cart and horse had been "bewitched"! If an 
old woman kept a black cat or a pet toad, it was most 
assuredly her "familiar," and she was branded as a 
witch forthwith. If cows sickened and died, it was be- 
cause a "spell" had been cast over them; and so on and 
so on. The superstitions of witchcraft were as innumer- 
able as they were extraordinary. Are there any facts, 
amid all this superstition and ignorance, tending to show 
that genuine supernormal phenomena ever occurred at 
all ? And if so, what are they ? 



WITCHCRAFT 269 

It must be remembered that, in the days of witch- 
craft, virtually nothing was known of hysteria, epilepsy, 
the varied forms of insanity, hallucination, hypnotism, 
or of the possibilities of mal-observation and lapse of 
memory: while such a matter as first-hand circumstan- 
tial evidence seems to have been lost to sight entirely. 
If any mental or extraordinary physical disturbance 
took place, if the witch went into a trance and described 
things that were not, this was held to be proof positive 
that she was bewitched and under the influence of the 
devil. But we now know that most of these facts really 
indicated disease — mental and bodily — or the results of 
hysteria or trance, spontaneous or induced. Possibly 
there were also traces of hypnotism and telepathic in- 
fluence, upon occasion. Of course, fraud pure and 
simple would account for many of the phenomena — the 
vomiting of pins and needles, for instance. But there 
remain certain facts which cannot be accounted for on 
any of these theories. Let us see, briefly, what these are. 

First there are the "witches' marks." These were 
anaesthetic patches or zones on the body that were quite 
insensible to pain. They were searched for with the 
aid of sharp needles, and often found! It was thought 
that these were the spots which the devil had touched; 
this was his "trade-mark," so to speak, by which 
all witches were known. Now we know that just such 
anaesthetic patches occur in hysterical patients, and are 
not due to supernatural causes at all, but to pathological 
states. 

Then, again, there is the possible occurrence of hallu- 
cinations. Edmund Gurney pointed this out in Phan- 
tasms of the Living, vol. i. p. 117, where he said: 



270 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

"We know now that subjective hallucinations may 
possess the very fullest sensory character, and may be 
as real to the percipient as any object he ever beheld. 
I have myself heard an epileptic subject, who was per- 
fectly sane and rational in his general conduct, describe 
a series of interviews that he had had with the devil 
with a precision and an absolute belief in the evidence 
of his senses equal to anything that I ever read in the 
records of the witches' compacts. And further, we 
know now that there is a condition, capable often of 
being induced in uneducated and simple persons with 
extreme ease, in which any idea that is suggested may 
at once take sensory form, and may be projected as an 
actual hallucination. To those who have seen robust 
young men, in an early stage of hypnotic trance, staring 
with horror at a figure which appears to them to be 
walking on the ceiling, or giving way to strange con- 
vulsions under the impression that they have been 
changed into birds or snakes, there will be nothing very 
surprising in the belief of hysterical girls that they 
were possessed by some alien influence, or that their 
distinct persecutor was actually present to their senses. 
It is true that in hypnotic experiments there is com- 
monly some preliminary process by which the peculiar 
condition is induced, and that the idea which originates 
the delusion has then to be suggested ab extra. But 
with sensitive 'subjects' who have been much under any 
particular influence, a mere word will produce the ef- 
fect ; nor is there any feature in the evidence for witch- 
craft that more constantly recurs than the touching of 
the victim by the witch. Moreover, no hard and fast 
lines exist between the delusions of induced hypnotism 



WITCHCRAFT 271 

and those of spontaneous trance, or of the grave hystero- 
epileptic crises which mere terror is now known to de- 
velop." 

Unquestionably, hypnotism and hallucination played 
their part; also perhaps telepathy; and, as Gurney 
points out elsewhere, "The imagination which may be 
unable to produce, even in feeble-minded persons, the 
belief that they see things that are not there, may be 
quite able to produce the belief that they have seen 
them, which is all, of course, that their testimony im- 
plies" (p. 118). 

Doubtless a large part of witchcraft, particularly that 
portion of it which relates to the Sabbath and the scenes 
said to be enacted there, can be explained as being due 
to the morbid workings of the mind while in a trance 
state. It is asserted on good authority that salves and 
ointments were rubbed into the pores of the skin all 
over the body ; and that soon after this the witch would 
feel drowsy and lie down, and frequently remain in a 
semitrance state for several hours. During that time 
she would visit the Sabbath, — so it was said; but her 
body remained on the bed meanwhile, clearly showing 
that it had not been there. 1 

One of the most curious beliefs prevalent at the time 
was the belief in lycanthropy, that is, that certain in- 
dividuals can, under certain conditions, change their 
bodily shape, and appear as animals to persons at a dis- 
tance! Frequently this animal would be injured, in 
which case the person whom the animal represented 

1 See the article on "Witches' Unguents" in the Occult Review, 
April 1912, pp. 275-77. 



272 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

would be found to be injured in the same way, and in 
exactly the same place. The witch in such cases would 
frequently be lying at home in bed in a trance state, 
while her "fluidic double," in the shape of the animal, 
would be roaming about "seeking whom he might de- 
vour." The following is a typical case, which I quote 
from Adolphe D'Assier's Posthumous Humanity, p. 261 : 

"A miller, named Bigot, had some reputation for 
sorcery. One day, when his wife rose very early to go 
and wash some linen not very far from the house, he 
tried to dissuade her, repeating to her several times, 
'Do not go there ; you will be frightened.' '"Why should 
I be frightened?' answered she. 'I tell you you will be 
frightened.' She made nothing of these threats, and 
departed. Hardly had she taken her place at the wash- 
tub before she saw an animal moving here and there 
about her. As it was not yet daylight she could not 
clearly make out its form, but she thought it was a kind 
of dog. Annoyed by these goings and comings, and not 
being able to scare it away, she threw at it her wooden 
clothes-beater, which struck it in the eye. The animal 
immediately disappeared. At the same moment the 
children of Bigot heard the latter utter a cry of pain 
from the bed, and add: 'Ah! the wretch! she has de- 
stroyed my eye.' From that day, in fact, he became 
one-eyed. Several persons told me this fact, and I have 
heard it from Bigot's children themselves." 

How does our author attempt to account for such a 
fact as this? He says: 

"It was certainly the double of the miller which pro- 



WITCHCRAFT 273 

jected itself while lie was in bed and wandered about 
under an animal form. The wound which the animal 
received at once repercussed upon the eye of Bigot, just 
as we have seen the same thing happen in analogous 
cases of the projection of the double by sorcerers." 

Without endorsing such a view of the case, it may be 
said that recent experiments have shown it to be less 
incredible than might at first appear. Thus: We read 
further : 

"Innumerable facts, observed from antiquity to our 
own day, demonstrate in our being the existence of an 
internal reality — the internal man. Analysis of these 
different manifestations has permitted us to penetrate 
its nature. Externally it is the exact image of the 
person of whom it is the complement. Internally it re- 
produces the mould of all the organs which constitute 
the framework of the human body. We see it, in short, 
move, speak, take nourishment; perform, in a word, all 
the great functions of animal life. The extreme tenuity 
of these constituent molecules, which represent the last 
term of inorganic matter, allows it to pass through the 
walls and partitions of apartments. Hence the name of 
phantom, by which it is generally designated. Never- 
theless, as it is united with the body from which it 
emanates by an invisible vascular plexus, it can, at will, 
draw to itself, by a sort of aspiration, the greater part 
of the living forces which animate the latter. One sees, 
then, by a singular inversion, life withdrawn from the 
body, which then exhibits a cadaverous rigidity, and 
transfers itself entirely to the phantom, which acquires 
consistency — sometimes even to the point of struggling 



274 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

with persons before whom it materializes. It is but 
exceptionally that it shows itself in connection with a 
living person. But as soon as death has snapped the 
bonds which attach it to our organism, it definitely 
separates itself from the human body and constitutes 
the posthumous phantom." 

This interpretation of the facts, it will be seen, forms 
a sort of connecting link between apparitions, ghosts, 
materializations, vampirism, and witchcraft; it is also 
in accord with the statements of the theosophists as to 
the astral body, conforms with certain statements made 
through Mrs. Piper and others as to the nuidic or ethe- 
real body, and accounts for many of the phenomena of 
"collective hallucination" and haunted houses. I am 
far from saying that I think such a theory proved, but 
it is at least consistent and plausible; it is also in ac- 
cord with many facts, and explains them as no other 
theory can or does. 

Colonel A. de Rochas, in his article on ' ' Regression of 
Memory" (Annals of Psychical Science, July 1905), 
claimed that he had experimentally produced one of 
these doubles in a mesmerised subject. After several 
seances, and while the subject was in a deep trance, the 
following occurred: 

"The astral body is now complete. M. de R. tries to 
make it rise, to send it into another room. The body is 
stopped in its journey by the ceiling and the walls. M. 
de R. tells Mayo to stretch towards him the astral right 
hand, and he pinches it; Mayo feels the pinch." 

Experiments such as these could be multiplied ad 



WITCHCRAFT 275 

infinitum. There are cases on record in which the astral 
form has been pricked with needles, while the "sensitive" 
felt the prick, and so on. These experiments are sug- 
gestive, and if they should prove an etheric body, or 
anything corresponding to it, that would be at least one 
great step in advance in psychic research. It would 
also enable us to understand many of the phenomena 
of witchcraft, which are at present looked upon as mere 
superstitions. 

A word, finally, as to the phenomena of "exterioriza- 
tion of sensibility," to which reference was made in 
the last paragraph. Many French observers have, ap- 
parently, obtained these phenomena; but there seems 
to be much scepticism regarding them in England and 
America, where they are generally considered to be due 
entirely to "suggestion." For my own part — while I 
do not uphold past experiments in this direction as being 
particularly convincing — I must confess that I see no 
inherent improbability in the facts themselves. If we 
have an etheric body, this is doubtless more or less 
detachable, at times — indeed, the ingenious author of 
The Maniac suggests that the premature loosening of 
this body is the cause of much insanity. (See also my 
own remarks along the same general lines in the An- 
nals of Psychical Science, October-December 1909, pp. 
657-67; "Concerning Abnormal Mental Life.") This 
etheric body is doubtless highly sensitive to external 
forces and energies acting upon it, and would also feel 
physical pressure, etc., when applied. If this were true, 
we should have a ready explanation for these cases of 
exteriorized sensibility. 

But it would not even be necessary for us to assume 



276 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

this ! If the phenomena of exteriorization of motivity 
be true (the phenomena produced by Eusapia Palladino, 
for example) then we have here nervous energy or 
" fluid" existing beyond the periphery of the body — 
that is, in space, detached from the nerves. And if a 
motor current can exist and travel in this manner, why 
not a sensory current? It would only have to travel in 
the opposite direction. For these reasons, therefore, I 
am disposed to regard the phenomena of exteriorized 
sensibility as highly probable, if not actually proved. 



CHAPTER XII 

SCIENTIFIC TRUTHS CONTAINED IN FAIRY 
STORIES 

How many of us, re-reading the fairy stories of our 
childhood have for a moment believed that many of 
these tales might be based upon scientific truths? Of 
course it is probable that most of these stories have no 
basis of fact behind them, but that they are merely the 
product of the story-teller's imagination — just as simi- 
lar stories today are produced in this manner. But, on 
the other hand, it is quite conceivable that many of the 
seemingly fabulous accounts are in truth based upon 
realities; and that genuine occurrences may have hap- 
pened, giving birth to these tales. We all know the 
general character of many of the legends. I may men- 
tion, as typical of the marvellous things done : becoming 
visible and invisible, as did "Jack the Giant Killer"; 
the existence of giants and dwarfs, as in Little Tom 
Thumb; incredibly rapid growth of vegetation, as in 
Jack and the Beanstalk; being suddenly transported 
without effort through immense distances and seeing at 
the other end of such a journey scenes and events ac- 
tually transpiring at the time — as occurred in many of 
the Arabian Nights stories; cases in which plates and 
dishes washed themselves, and many other household 
feats were performed, as in Prince Hildebrand and 
Princess Ida; cases of long sleep, such as the Sleeping 

277 



278 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

Beauty; cases in which human beings have been trans- 
formed into animals, and vice versa, as in Beauty and 
the Beast; cases in which palaces have sprung up over 
night, existing on the desert plain, only to vanish the 
next night and leave it as barren as before — as so often 
happened in the Arabian Nights. 

Let us first of all consider the cases in which persons 
have caused themselves to vanish and reappear at will. 
This power of becoming visible and invisible to others 
is not limited to mythical times, but may be reproduced 
today by artificial means. If a sensitive subject be 
hypnotized (and there is some analogy to the hypnotic 
pass in the fact that the fairy invariably waved her 
wand before the eyes of the onlooker), hallucinations of 
various types may be induced. Thus, our subject may 
be persuaded to see, for instance, a dog walking across 
the carpet, whereas there is no dog there. He may be 
persuaded that there is a stream in front of him flow- 
ing through the drawing-room, and that it is necessary 
for him, in order to prevent his feet from becoming wet, 
to take off his shoes and socks, and turn up his trousers. 
Hypnotic suggestion will perform this, and it may be 
said that suggestion alone, even when the subject is not 
in the hypnotic state, may be employed to produce many 
of these hallucinatory pictures. On the contrary, it is 
possible to suggest to our subject that such and such an 
object is gradually diminishing in size, and finally that 
it disappears altogether. He sees and describes this 
diminution, and finally looks in vain for the object 
which, he asserts, has vanished, but which, as a matter 
of fact, is perfectly visible to all others not under the 
influence of the suggestion. We frequently suffer from 



TRUTHS IN FAIRY STORIES 279 

these "negative hallucinations," as they are called, in 
our ordinary daily life. We cannot find an object 
which is perfectly visible — resting in the very centre 
of the area over which we are searching diligently. 
Suddenly we discover it; it seems incredible to us that 
we have not seen it before; it seems to have sprung 
into being as though placed there by some invisible hand. 
Nevertheless it had remained throughout in the one 
position, and the only remarkable factor was our in- 
ability to see it. Such cases are well known to psychol- 
ogists (the power of suggestion in inducing both posi- 
tive and negative hallucinations) , and this — both in the 
normal and the hypnotic state — is well recognized. 

Now it is only necessary for us to extend our con- 
ception somewhat in order to see the scientific truths 
contained in many fairy stories, in which one of the 
characters — hero, fairy, or what not — becomes visible 
and invisible at will. It is only necessary for us to 
conceive that some degree of mental influence had been 
brought to bear upon the minds of the onlookers, and 
that suggestion had been skilfully employed, in order to 
account for many of these stories. I know of a case in 
which the operator made his subject, who remained prac- 
tically in a normal state throughout, see him floating 
about the room — whisking over chairs and tables, as 
though the law of gravity had no further influence upon 
him! 

We might, perhaps, also account for "invisibility" 
in one or two other ways. Thus, the magician or fairy 
might possess the power of interposing some veil or 
screen between himself and the seer — etheric or phys- 
ical — by some act of will. Or we could suppose that 



280 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

some chemical might be applied to the body, rendering 
its structure and tissues transparent. (One is here re- 
minded of H. G. Wells' Invisible Man.) Or, we might 
assume that the magician possessed the power of neu- 
tralizing light-waves, reflected from his body, by some 
method of "interference" — thus rendering himself in- 
visible. This might be due either to a greater under- 
standing of the laws of physics — i. e., the ability to 
manipulate light-energy in this manner, or to some 
purely psychic power — volitional, etc. Precise instruc- 
tions for doing this have indeed been published (Equi- 
nox, vol. iii.). Of course, all such speculations as these 
are purely fantastic, until some proof of their possibil- 
ity be forthcoming. 

It may be thought that this knowledge was not pos- 
sessed by the ancients to the requisite extent; but there 
is abundant evidence to show that "mesmerism" has 
been practised from very ancient times. It is prob- 
able that the passage in Exodus vii, 10, 11, 12, refers 
to this, when it says: "Aaron cast down his rod before 
Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a ser- 
pent. Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and 
the sorcerers: and they also, the magicians of Egypt, 
did in like manner with their enchantments. For they 
cast down every man his rod, and they became ser- 
pents; but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods." It 
is interesting to note that Professor S. S. Baldwin, 
otherwise known as "The White Mahatma," recently 
saw a very similar feat performed in Egypt, and gives 
an account of it in his book, The Secrets of Mahatma 
Land Explained. Doubtless the effects in both cases 
were produced by suggestion, and a species of hypnotic 



TRUTHS IN FAIRY STORIES 281 

influence. That the ancients were well versed in magic, 
and the power of suggestion and personal influence, is 
best illustrated by an old Egyptian papyrus at present 
in the British Museum, which contains an account of a 
magical seance given by a certain Tchatcha-em-ankh be- 
fore King Khufu, 3766 b. c. In this manuscript it is 
stated of the magician : ' ' He knoweth how to bind on a 
head which hath been cut off ; he knoweth how to make 
a lion follow him, as if led by a rope; and he knoweth 
the number of the stars of the house (constellation) of 
Thoth. " The decapitation trick is thus no new thing, 
while the experiment performed with the lion, possibly 
a hypnotic feat, shows hypnotism to be old. 

In the Arabian Nights, and in various other fairy 
tales, we also read of the sudden appearance and dis- 
appearance of palaces, castles, and other buildings of 
monumental character. This strange phenomenon has 
frequently been paralleled in recent times. It is a 
species of hallucination, induced by auto-suggestion or 
hetero-suggestion — that is, suggestion given to oneself, 
or suggestion from outsiders. Madame Blavatsky, in 
her Nightmare Tales, relates an interesting experience 
of this character: 

"A curious optical effect then occurred. The room, 
which had been previously partially lighted by the sun- 
beam, grew darker and darker as the star increased in 
radiance, until we found ourselves in an Egyptian 
gloom. The star twinkled, trembled, and turned, at 
first with a slow, gyratory motion, then faster and faster, 
increasing its circumference at every rotation until it 
formed a brilliant disk, and we no longer saw the 



282 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

dwarf, who seemed absorbed in its light. . . . All being 
now ready, the dervish, without uttering a word, or re- 
moving his gaze from the disk, stretched out a hand, 
and taking hold of mine he drew me to his side, and 
pointed to the luminous shield. Looking at the place 
indicated, we saw large patches appear, like those of 
the moon. These gradually formed themselves into fig- 
ures, that began moving themselves about in higher re- 
lief than their natural colours. They neither appeared 
like a photograph nor an engraving, still less like the re- 
flection of images on a mirror, but as if the disk were a 
cameo, and they were raised above its surface — then 
endowed with life and motion. To my astonishment 
and my friend's consternation, we recognized the bridge 
leading from Galata to Stamboul spanning the Golden 
Horn from the new to the old city. There were the 
people hurrying to and fro, steamers and caiques glid- 
ing on the blue Bosphorus, the many-coloured buildings, 
villas, palaces reflected in the water; and the whole pic- 
ture illuminated by the noonday sun. It passed like a 
panorama, but so vivid was the impression that we could 
not tell whether it or ourselves were in motion. All 
was bustle and life, but not a sound broke the oppressive 
stillness. It was noiseless as a dream. It was a phan- 
tom picture. . . . The scene faded away, and Miss 
H placed herself in turn by the side of the dervish. ' ' 

We thus see that expectancy and suggestion alone 
may induce sufficiently abnormal mental states to ensure 
the occurrence of such images — especially in a mind 
previously wrought by imagination, superstition, love, 
or any emotion tending to bring about its temporary 



TRUTHS IN FAIRY STORIES 283 

lack of balance. The visions induced would, of course, 
be mental, and not physical, in their character; they 
would nevertheless appear just as real to the onlooker. 

Closely akin to these visions are those in which, it is 
reported, journeys have been made through space on a 
magic carpet — as in the Arabian Nights — or merely at 
the wish or command of some fairy or magician. Fre- 
quently, in such cases, it is reported that a vision is 
seen at the other end of the journey, coinciding with 
reality. It may be that the princess is, at that moment, 
being captured by a hideous giant; or that her lover 
is in great danger of losing his life. These visions have 
stirred the recipient into action, the result being that 
he or she arrives in the nick of time to prevent some 
fearful catastrophe. Such visions, too, have foundation 
in fact. There are many cases in which distant scenes 
have been visited in sleep, and places accurately remem- 
bered — the seer never having visited that locality in his 
life. Very much the same has happened in hypnotic 
trance, and even occasionally in the waking state, spon- 
taneously. This is a species of clairvoyant vision; op- 
erative either during sleep, hypnotic trance, or day- 
dream; and while it accurately represents scenes trans- 
piring at a distance, here too, it will be noted, there is 
no corporeal transition — -only mental adjustment from 
one scene of activity to another. Yet the subject re- 
mains under the distinct impression that he has been 
there in person, and actually visited the spot indicated. 

The Sleeping Beauty is an example of a story, typical 
of many, which illustrates the tradition that on certain 
occasions persons have passed into a sleep-state in which 
they have remained for long periods of time without 



284 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

apparent injury. While we must assume that the 
periods over which this sleep-state extended have been 
greatly overdrawn, the reported cases of hypnotic 
trance, and of voluntary interment, among the Hindus 
and elsewhere, lend probability to these stories, because 
of the fact that long periods of trance have been under- 
gone by various individuals — who awakened from these 
states in apparently perfect health, and none the worse 
for their remarkable experience. Several spontaneous 
cases have been reported quite recently, in which the 
subject has passed several months, or even a year or 
more, in a sleep-state — awaking every few days or weeks, 
speaking a few words, taking perhaps a little nourish- 
ment, and then lapsing into oblivion ! The older cases 
of extended sleep thus find a close parallel in the newer 
cases. 

One of the chief constituents of every fairy story is 
the giant or dwarf, who occupies a central position. 
That giants and dwarfs exist today there can be no 
doubt. They are frequently to be seen in the side- 
shows, and even in public life. But it is now known 
that giants and dwarfs suffer from a certain disease, 
which renders them particularly short-lived; and they 
are, generally speaking, muscularly weak for their size. 
They are not the stalwart, fierce race of beings imagined 
in the fairy stories, and which popular belief still pic- 
tures them. For the fairy tale, the giant is always 
enormous and powerful, and generally cannibalistic in 
his habits ! Have giants of this character existed ? 
Could such a race have existed? To this question it is 
almost certain that we must answer "No." M. Dastre, 
of the Sorbonne, Paris, has gone into this question at 



TRUTHS IN FAIRY STORIES 285 

great length, and lias given us the result of his re- 
searches in his essay on The Stature of Man at Various 
Epochs. Here he says: 

"It is incontestable that beings of gigantic size do 
appear from time to time. . . . Giants are men whose 
•development, instead of pursuing a normal course, has 
undergone a morbid deviation, and whose nutrition has 
become perverted. They are dystrophic. Their great 
stature shows that one part has gained at the loss of 
another. It is a symptom of their inferiority in the 
struggle for existence. Their condition is not only a 
variation from the ordinary conditions of development — 
that is to say, they are 'congenital monsters,' the study 
of which belongs to the science of teratology — but it is 
a variation also from a state of health, physically and 
normally sound. In other words, they are diseased, 
and fall within the domain of the pathologist. Here 
then, as Brissaud says, you have your giants despoiled 
of their ancient and favourite prestige. Mythology 
yields the place to pathology." 

The causes of gigantism and of dwarfs are now well 
known. In the brain there is a tiny gland known as 
the pituitary gland, weighing little more than half a 
gram, and divided into two portions — the "anterior" 
and the "posterior" lobes. Hypertrophy of the an- 
terior lobe causes gigantism. The bones grow to an exag- 
gerated length; the hands, feet, and bones of the face 
grow enormous. When, on the contrary, the secretions 
of the anterior lobe are insufficient, the body remains 
small, undergrown and delicate. The secretions of the 
posterior lobe, on the other hand, insure the undue ac- 



286 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

cumulation of fat, and disturb the functional activities. 
Other ductless glands in the body also affect the men- 
tal and physiological functions of the whole organism. 

Nevertheless it is realized that beings have existed 
from time to time far larger and more powerful in 
every way than the ordinary human being, and the 
mythopoeic tendency of the human mind has doubtless 
supplied the rest, and accredited to them marvellous 
powers which they did not in reality possess. 

In not a few fairy tales we read that the plates and 
dishes, which were upon the fairy's table, ran of their 
own accord to the kitchen, washed themselves, and came 
back to the table ; that a cake was cut by a knife held 
by no visible hand; a decanter of water, of its own 
accord, moved about from place to place on the table, 
refilling the glasses of the guests; and in various other 
ways duties were performed which we are accustomed to 
consider as necessarily performed by ourselves. All 
this was accomplished by the objects without any ex- 
ternal assistance, and of their own accord. Incredible 
as such accounts may appear, they are, nevertheless, 
not so extraordinary, viewed in the light of some newer 
researches — which in fact, if proved to be true, render 
phenomena of this sort quite credible. During seances 
held with Eusapia Palladino, objects were moved from 
place to place in the room without visible contact, and 
apparently of their own accord. They were also lifted 
from place to place and floated about in the air without 
visible support. These phenomena have been observed 
for a number of years by scientific men on the Con- 
tinent, and they are unanimous in asserting that mani- 
festations of this character do in fact take place, and 



TRUTHS IN FAIRY STORIES 287 

that they are not due to any force or forces known to 
physical science. On one occasion, for example, a glass 
decanter was seen to be moved from the sideboard on 
which it stood on to the seance table, and thence rise 
and float around the room, no one touching it — there 
being no possibility of any connection between it and 
any object in the room. Finally, the glass bottle held 
itself, or was held by invisible hands, to Eusapia's 
mouth, and she thereupon drank some of the water it 
contained. The same thing happened to an investigator, 
another member of the circle. The glass decanter was 
then transported back to the sideboard, and a pile of 
dishes and other objects were moved on to the table. 1 
Similar phenomena are said to have occurred in the 
presence, or through the mediumship, of D. D. Home. 
Sir William Crookes informs us that on several oc- 
casions a bunch of flowers was carried from one end 
of the table to the other, and then held to the noses of 
various investigators in turn, for them to smell. Some 
of those present at the seance saw a white hand, visible 
as far as the wrist, carrying the bouquet. Others saw 
merely a whitish cloud-like mass connected with the 
bunch of flowers. Still others saw nothing — save that 
the flowers themselves were transported through space 
without visible means of support. 

Here, then, we have phenomena, attested by scientific 
men, all happening within the past few years, rivalling 
any of a like nature that are reported to have occurred 
in fairy stories! If invisible beings, possessing intelli- 
gence, constantly move about us, and are capable, at 

i Journal 8.P.R., vol. vi. p. 356. All this was observed by Sir 
Oliver Lodge, Prof. Ch. Kichet, Mr. Myers, and Dr. Ochorowicz. 



288 PROBLEMS OF PSYCHICAL RESEARCH 

times, of affecting the material world, surely there 
should be no objection to many of these fairy stories, 
since the difference in the facts is one merely of degree 
and not of hind; and this would be true even were the 
phenomena proved to be due only to the action of some 
force or forces (under more or less intelligent control) 
within ourselves, producing the phenomena. 

Other extraordinary narratives will doubtless occur 
to the mind. The bean-stalk which grew overnight, 
might be referred to; and it is possible to compare this 
with cases of electrically or artificially forced vegeta- 
tion. But, of course, the majority of the wonders re- 
ported in fairy stories find their probable interpretation 
in those tricks of the imagination which have now been 
duplicated by artificial means, and which science is be- 
ginning to understand and interpret according to well- 
known psychological laws. Fairy stories may thus pre- 
sent (in many instances) the germ of a truth, which it 
has taken many centuries to elaborate and comprehend 
in detail. 



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